Summit deal gets lukewarm reception from EP

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Having threatened to block the EU budget deal, the Parliament now warns that tough negotiations lie ahead.

European Parliament President Josep Borrell (socialist) said : "This agreement by the Council is not the end of the process. It marks the beginning of the last phase of negotiations with the European Parliament and the Commission. Without wanting to prejudge the positions which will be taken by the European Parliament, I note that the position of the Council is still very far from that of the European Parliament."

Hans-Gert Poettering, EPP-ED Group Chairman declared the budget compromise an offer from the Council for negotiations with the European Parliament. Being two equal partners of the Union's budgetary authority Council and Parliament will have to decide together on the future budgetary policy. "This is not alone about money. This is also about the powers of Parliament and the democratic control of the European Union's spending in all areas," said Poettering. This has also to be the case in those areas, where the European Parliament is not in a co-decision position, like in the Union's foreign policy.

Graham Watson, leader of the European Parliament's Liberal and Democrat Group said: "It is to some degree an achievement that Member States managed to agree an outline deal including a permanent change to the rebate, review of all expenditure, including CAP in 2009 and additional solidarity funding for the new Member States. However they must recognise that Parliament is the other arm of the EU budgetary authority and as such has to agree to the package. I hope that the two sides will now seek and find a mutually acceptable agreement for both institutions under the Austrian Presidency that will enable funding to come on line in time for January 2007."

Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Monica Frassoni, Co-Presidents of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament, said: "The European Council settled for a budget deal, which is far below our expectations. The EU leaders did not have the courage to reduce substantially the compulsory agricultural expenses and the British rebate. Consequently, the most important items for the future of Europe such as spending for research, culture, youth, Natura 2000 and rural development and external actions suffered unacceptable budget cuts. The Council's compromise also lacks solidarity with new Member States. Short, this budget does not meet the needs of Europe. Today's satisfaction of EU leaders of having found a deal could in the long run turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory."

Francis Würtz, President of the GUE/NGL group, said that the EP now had its back to the wall since the summit deal was indeed below the Luxembourg proposal of June 2005: "If the EP wants its solemnly adopted positions to be remain credible, then it has to reject the financial perspectives".

Ernest-Antoine Seillière, president of UNICE: “Following a series of institutional setbacks, this decision of the EU Council sheds a more positive light on the state of governance in the Union.  This agreement could be the basis for a more constructive dynamic for EU decision-making.  The new EU budget is not the ambitious instrument for the growth and jobs strategy that UNICE had called for, but is a step in the right direction.”

Christoph Leitl, president of Eurochambres said:“The agreement reached today is an important signal, not only for business, but the whole of Europe. The summit was finally able to show decision-making and leadership despite the lack of a European Constitution and taking into account that decision-making is made more difficult in an enlarged Europe of 25 Member States. This is an important step in giving Europe back some credibility vis-à-vis its citizens."

Oxfam's Luis Morago said: “Friday’s deal opens a small window of opportunity for a CAP reform that is so urgently needed. But the wording agreed for a review in 2008/9 of all spending raises serious doubts over Europe’s willingness to substantially reform its agricultural policy in the coming years.”

The two-day EU summit 15–16 December 2005 reached a deal in the early hours of 17 December. 

The deal raised the 2007-2013 budget to 862.3 billion euros, or 1.045 percent of EU Gross National Income. Compared to the 1.03 percent in the latest UK proposal, it adds 13 billion euro. Compared to the Luxembourg June 2005 compromise it is still a decrease of 22 billion euros.

Immediately prior to the summit, the EP's group leaders had threatened to block any budget deal worse than the Luxembourg proposal.   

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