As Europe’s leaders gather to resume talks on the EU budget, the European commission president emphasises its role in supporting those hit hardest by the economic crisis.
Addressing MEPs on 6 February, President José Manuel Barroso cited instances of EU countries being unable to support their workers when a manufacturing plant is relocated or unable to take care of their poorest citizens.
On the eve of a major meeting of European leaders on this issue, Mr Barroso urged them to not miss an opportunity to use the budget to fight youth unemployment – there are currently 5.7 million young people without jobs in the EU.
Mr Barroso called on leaders to find the right balance between ambition and realism – promising to do as much as possible to keep the ambition visible in the commission’s initial proposal – and asked for any agreement to be flexible. This would allow unspent funds to be moved from one year to the next, or one policy area to another.
The president also called for a mid-term review of the budget, allowing for adjustments to where the money has been allocated if necessary.
He vowed to fight hard for adequate funding for key EU programmes designed to help Europe out of the current economic crisis. These include those financing research, digital and transport networks, competitive small businesses and student exchanges. EU funding here will help Europe to remain one of the most competitive regions in the world, said Mr Barroso.
At a time when many are struggling financially, it is also important to continue initiatives supporting the most vulnerable, such as:
The EU budget is also a lifeline for people outside Europe. Funding provides for valuable development and humanitarian aid – and also determines the EU’s influence in other parts of the world.