Swoboda: No problem to return to annual budgets

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If the EU leaders' agreement on the long-term EU budget does not respect the red lines spelled out by MEPs, namely flexibility, a mid-term review clause and more money for growth and investment, the European Parliament might decide to reject the proposal and revert to annual budgets, says Hannes Swoboda, leader of the Socialists and Democrats group.

Hannes Swoboda, leader of the group of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, spoke to EurActiv’s Georgi Gotev.

Do you expect that the European Parliament will harden its position and request major changes to the budget agreement that hopefully will be reached at the level of heads of state and government?

We are for an open, frank and transparent vote. But if governments and parties make too much pressure on individual members, and [MEPs] feel limited in their expression, because they will not be put on the list [for the 2014 European elections], then we will ask for a secret vote.

Does it mean that Socialists are more moderate about holding secret vote than the EPP and the liberals, who said they want to use this procedure?

If there is no pressure and MEPs are free to express their opinion, then there is no need for a secret vote.

But the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote, no matter if secret or not, will also depend on whether some flexibility will be introduced to the budget deal, is that right?

If we see that they really take seriously our request for structural changes in the budget, we can also have a normal vote.

Is it all about flexibility, about the possibility to use money not spent?

Flexibility, [midterm] review clause, these are the things, and more money for growth and investment.

The liberals also insist to give the EU its own resources?

Of course own resources would be good, but if we don’t get it now, this is not the biggest problem.

What do you most dislike in the latest proposal by Council President Herman Van Rompuy?

I dislike the numbers, but most importantly, the lack of priorities for growth, investment and innovation.

So you say leaders made promises but failed to deliver on how to give them life?

Absolutely. Many leaders, Cameron for one, said we need a budget for growth, a budget that will change the old structure, [slash] agricultural spending, but what changed? Nothing.

But if we return to annual budgets, would that be bad?

Not bad for us. We can live with that. No problem!

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