EU budget agreement rejected by the European Parliament

From left to right: Mr Francois Hollande, President of France; Mr Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament. (Council of the European Union photographic library)

From left to right: Mr Francois Hollande, President of France; Mr Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament. (Council of the European Union photographic library)

Driven by the stubbornness of the British PM David Cameron, who was effectively supported by the austerity loving German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the EU Summit of 7-8 February agreed yesterday on the Union’s budget. Theoretically their decision binds EU spending for the seven year period of 2014-2020.

The European Parliament however is of a completely different opinion. The EU Parliamentarians believe that this agreement on the budget, is not only anti-social and anti-European but it is also illegal. After the “deal” of the 27 leaders on EU expenditure for the next seven years was officially announced, the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, noted in his tweeter account that, “My signature is required for definitive adoption of budget, I cannot, will not and may not accept what amount to deficit budgets”.

At this point it must be noted that the EU Treaty forbids deficits in EU budgets. Schulz also added that the President of the EU Council, Herman Van Rompuy did not consult with the Parliament all along the long months of negotiations, preceding yesterday’s agreement.

All against the budget

In a very rare unanimity the four major European Parliament political groups, the European People’s Party (EPP), the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats (S&D Group), the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and the Greens/EFA Group issued a joint statement rejecting the agreement. The wording on this announcement is so strong that the deal of the 27 leaders does not stand a chance in the European Parliament.

Not to forget that the most important procedure in the European Parliament’s Plenary is the approval or the rejection of the budget. And this time the rejection is a sure thing, unless there is an extensive review. However the European Parliament is the EU institution which concentrates the dislike of the Eurosceptic faction of the British Conservative party. With David Cameron depending on their votes for keeping the leadership of the party and consequently the PM’s office, it is rather impossible for him to accept a major reform of the budget.

In any case the new EU budget will be scrutinised by the EU Parliamentarians for many months to come. At the end its approval will depend on the reforms that the EU council and of course David Cameron, will be willing to accept. But let’s see the announcement by the four major political formations of the European Parliament.

The basic points of the text issued by the Parliamentarians are being quoted below. It is a “Joint Statement to the Press by Joseph Daul, on behalf of the EPP Group, Hannes Swoboda, on behalf of the S&D Group, and Guy Verhofstadt, on behalf of the ALDE Group and on behalf of the Greens/EFA Group Rebecca Harms and Daniel Cohn-Bendit”.

Says the statement:

“Commenting on the results of the EU summit, the leaders of the four largest political groups in the European Parliament issued the following joint statement:

“The core priority behind Parliament’s choices is the ambition to promote growth and investment in the EU, and thus to contribute to Europe’s sustainable recovery from the crisis.

This agreement will not strengthen the competitiveness of the European economy but weaken it. It is not in the prime interest of our European citizens.

The European Parliament cannot accept today’s deal in the European Council as it is. We regret that Mr Van Rompuy did not talk and negotiate with us in the last months.

The real negotiations will start now with the European Parliament. We will maintain our priorities which we have clearly stated many times.

We see with astonishment that EU leaders agree to a budget that could lead to a structural deficit. Large gaps between payments and commitments will only store up trouble for the future and not solve existing problems. We remain firm on the respect of Article 310 of the Treaty which requires a balanced budget”.

Last but not least there is a widespread rumour in the European Parliament that the body will decide to hold a secret ballot on this budget. It will be the first time that an EU budget will be passed or rejected by the Parliament in a secret vote. The idea is that many Parliamentarians might need to keep their choice on this crucial issue away from the eyes of others. Obviously this is to avoid possible repercussions, if they vote in defiance of their home country political party lines.

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