European Leaders Summit:Reactions…


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©photocredit

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Today’s decisions would not have seen the light of day without the European Parliament

The Chairman of the EPP Group, Joseph Daul MEP, today welcomed measures taken in favour of youth employment by Heads of State and Government at the European Council of 27 and 28 June.

“Without the European Parliament and its fight to obtain flexibility on the Multiannual Financial Framework, these decisions would never have seen the light of day,” highlighted Joseph Daul.

“It is because we put pressure on the Council until the very end and we demanded flexibility in commitments and payments that the Heads of State and Government were able to release 6 billion euros for the funding of emergency measures in favour of youth employment,” Joseph Daul said.

“Our determination was also crucial to obtaining 1 additional billion for the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived, and, for 2014 and 2015, 200 additional million euros for research, 150 additional million for the Erasmus programme, and 50 additional million for SMEs. The 2016 compulsory revision clause we fought for will make it possible to adapt the budget mid-term, and the discussion on the financing of the EU budget through genuine own resources will finally start,” underlined Joseph Daul.

“I welcome the defining role played by the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, and of course the negotiators from the EPP Group – in particular Alain Lamassoure, but also Reimer Böge and Jean-Luc Dehaene – in reaching this result.”

“Once again, today’s decisions show that in the current situation, the European Parliament is the real defender of European citizens and the driving force of all political decisions in the European Union,” Joseph Daul concluded.

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Not ideal but a decisive improvement

S&D Group leader Hannes Swoboda welcomed the deal struck today between the presidents of the European Parliament, European Commission and Irish presidency on the EU budget for 2014-2020. The S&D Group will discuss the details of the agreement in Strasbourg next week

Said Hannes Swoboda:
“The agreement is not ideal but there are decisive improvements. The European Parliament’s key demands – especially on growth and the fight against youth unemployment – have been met. In these difficult times, we need an EU budget focused on growth and job creation.

“I welcome the increase in funding for the youth employment initiative as of 2016 and the front loading of funds for Erasmus for apprenticeships, research and support for SMEs. We will avoid a drop in resources that these programmes would have experienced in 2014 and 2015 compared to this years’ budget.

“I also welcome that extra funding will be made available for the ‘Aid for the most deprived’ programme if member states wish to do so.

“We also got strong assurances that the overall €908 billion in payments will be used over the period to pay Europe’s bills.

“We urged the member states to stick to their promises to resolve the issue of the 2013 unpaid bills no later than 9 July.”

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MFF 2014-2020: Real progress but still some hurdles to overcome

Commenting on the agreement reached this morning between the Presidents of the European Parliament and the Council on the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework, Guy Verhofstadt, president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, Anne Jensen (Venstre, Denmark) rapporteur on own resources, Jan Mulder (VVD, Netherlands), ALDE coordinator in the Committee on Budgets made the following statement:

Commenting on the agreement reached this morning between the Presidents of the European Parliament and the Council on the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework, Guy Verhofstadt, president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, Anne Jensen (Venstre, Denmark) rapporteur on own resources, Jan Mulder (VVD, Netherlands), ALDE coordinator in the Committee on Budgets made the following statement:

Last week, it was claimed that the best possible compromise had been reached. Now, we see that we were totally justified in refusing it. By sticking to our position, we today have on the table a new compromise that contains a number of advances, especially regarding flexibility which has now become almost total. Indeed, last week it seemed impossible to go beyond a maximum transfer of 24 billion for the entire period in addition to an annual cap. Today, we are offered a transfer of the total margin of payments not used during the first four years and a limitation during the last three last year amounting to a maximum of € 26 billion.

However, a certain number of important points still need to be clarified before we can decide on giving our agreement to the final text in September.
1. Negotiations on the legal basis for multiannual programs must be completed in advance, and in full respect of the Parliament’s legislative powers granted by the Treaty of Lisbon.
2. Front loading of funds for youth employment and research policy is good but it must also be extended to the Digital Agenda which is equally key in ensuring the Union’s return to growth.

3. We need a firm commitment that no deficit is brought forward from 2013 to 2014; the Commission must therefore propose a second amending budget for the Council to approve in a timely manner.

4. It is essential for the next Parliament to have its say on the budget and therefore on the MFF, ensured by a non-optional review clause; the words “as appropriate” – inserted precisely to avoid such obligation – must be removed from the text submitted to vote by the Parliament.

5. The text concerning own resources must go beyond a procedure and include a commitment to reform. The Parliament must insist that the review clause includes revenue as well as expenditure.

We must now work to ensure that these elements and outstanding conditions are clarified before the vote on the final draft in September. The ALDE group will discuss the compromise Monday in Strasbourg, in the light of all these elements.”

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A summit full of empty promises and words

Commenting on the result of the European Summit Dany Cohn-Bendit, Co-President of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament said:

“Once again, petty narrow national interests dominated this summit. That the UK will get an even higher rebate is unacceptable. This ongoing bargaining between governments damages the image of the European Union. The agreed compromise on the Multi-annual Financial Framework is not sufficient to cope with the challenges of the crisis.”

Rebecca Harms, Co-President of the Greens/EFA group in the European parliament said:

“Six billion euro against youth unemployment – this sounds good, but it is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. Money will still be lacking for other social projects of the EU. We need more than just promises and emergency rescue measures to help the young find jobs. The EU urgently needs to agree on a binding and soundly financed strategy against the ongoing and aggravating recession. Only a sustainable recovery of the economy will ensure that the young and the jobless have any prospects in the long term. The joint economic stimulus package should focus on investments in measures against climate change, for the development of renewable energies and for resource efficiency.

By organising her own summit against joblessness in Berlin, German chancellor Angela Merkel is showing that she doesn’t care about common European interests, but only about getting re-elected in September.”

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Historic cut to 7-year EU budget agreed

After months of wrangling, an agreement has been reached between the President of the European Parliament and national governments that will deliver the historic 3.7 percent cut in the EU’s long-term budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework. 

European Conservatives and Reformists Group leader Martin Callanan has welcomed the agreement and said that, although he will study its contents, it seems to meet ECR red lines. European Parliament group leaders will meet shortly to discuss the deal and the way forward ahead of an expected vote next week.  

Mr Callanan said:  

 “The European Parliament has dragged its feet and sought to derail agreement on this deal. Thankfully the President of the Parliament has backed down and we hope other political groups will follow him.  

 “This agreement is not perfect. Too much EU money will still be spent on French cows and not enough on research and economic growth. However, the deal agreed moves the EU budget in the right direction. 

 “Given the many interests involved, nobody could have delivered every priority in these negotiations. However, our main priorities were to deliver a cut and a general reprioritisation of the budget towards areas that deliver economic growth. We are pleased to have been successful in delivering our headline objectives.

 “Now it is time for MEPs to end the pointless posturing and accept this deal next week. Nobody will thank the European Parliament if it undermines a deal agreed by the EU’s 27 leaders, who pay the EU’s bills.”

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EU seven-year budget deal neglects EP position – President Schulz signs below par deal with Council

By agreeing to a Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) deal without prior consultation of all political groups in the Parliament, Martin Schulz has neglected democratic principles inside the house. If Mr. Schulz condemns backroom deals in the Council, he should not repeat the same mistake in his own house by only consulting the two biggest parliamentary groups.

It’s a scandal that some political group leaders only learned about the deal through the media. This agreement needs a qualified majority in the Parliament so Mr Schulz would be well advised to respect the wishes of all the MEPs and not just those from the EPP and S&D groups.

Despite the difficult economic crisis hitting most European countries, mere cosmetic increases in funds to fight youth unemployment and to help the most deprived are on offer. This will not satisfy citizens who expect much better from the Union.

The current deal only slightly differs from the conclusions of the Council on February 8th. The overall amounts were not changed; Council cuts of €85bn remain! For the first time, we will have a reduced budget. Meanwhile, the expenditure structure of the budget is as it was in the 1950s and the revision clause which would give an opportunity to correct the amount is not binding. We still don’t know how the CAP reform will be paid.

We, therefore, have neither the means nor the structure to face the challenges of the coming years.

Many issues are only partly dealt with and postponed for the future. We regret that the S&D and the EPP have already agreed to this bad deal and want to force the Parliament to welcome it already next week in Strasbourg.

We strongly oppose this blackmailing of the European Parliament!

GUE/NGL condemns Commission’s 2014 Budget proposal

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The ETUC demands a stimulus package of investment for jobs.

The struggle against the scourge of unemployment, notably that of young people, demands significant investment. The ETUC reminds the European leaders that it is still waiting for the roadmap on the social dimension of the EU, which was announced in Dec 2012.

The General Secretary stressed the urgency of calling a halt to failed policies and, one year before the European elections, demands that the Council takes appropriate action against populist movements in Europe.

It’s an honour and a signal of recognition for the ETUC; we fully appreciate this.

I have met a number of you recently to prepare this important Summit.

It seems to me that, yes, we have common concerns:

· European economies are trailing behind, growth is very weak, some countries are in recession;

· The EU’s share of world markets is falling. Others are growing. We stagnate;

· Real wages are falling; standards of living are falling; poverty and inequalities are rising. Households are not spending: they are frightened.

· Unemployment rises each month.

A year ago already, in the context of a very tense social and economic context, you announced an employment and growth pact and a social dimension roadmap. We played the game.

We made proposals to get out of the rut. We called for an EU social compact and put forward ideas for a social dimension.

A new recovery plan for Europe is at the heart of our demands.

Documents I have seen show that the Council intends to discuss a recovery plan and to renew the growth pact. Those intentions go in the right direction.

However, talking about a new investment plan for Europe; talking about engaging in the growth and employment plan isn’t enough. What lies behind the words? What do you propose concretely to change things in reality?

Structural reforms do not constitute a recovery plan. It’s exactly the opposite in a number of countries.

A compromise has been reached on the EU budget. This budget, it seems, will constitute “the growth fund for Europe”. One might hope so, but this budget really isn’t enough. And what about the European Social Fund? It should be guaranteed at least 25% of the structural funds for it to be significant in helping recovery.

Youth unemployment is one of your main concerns today. We fully share this priority.

The social partners have contributed with the Framework for Youth Employment. The Commission Communication fully reflects this agreement between employers and unions; this is good, but it doesn’t exonerate the Council from taking its own responsibilities.

To deal with this calamity, resources are needed; only a real recovery plan and a change in economic policies can fundamentally deal with this problem. I doubt that the financing proposed will meet the expectations.

President, where is the social dimension roadmap announced last December? It seems to have been postponed indefinitely. The Council must not mislead by announcing a social roadmap and, then a few months later, bury away its promises. Media announcements not backed by further action are extremely harmful; the trust invested in you is not a secondary consideration, it is essential.

So, please eschew misleading advertising. I would draw your attention to Directive 2006/114/CE of 12 December 2006.

Under current policies, imbalances in the European labour market are increasingly apparent. These imbalances must be closely monitored if we want to achieve upwards convergence. We need actionable indicators, on inequality, on poverty. If those indicators turn red, we must change the policies that cause the negative results.

Despite our protests, despite people mobilising on the streets, I must unfortunately recognise that we have not – not yet- been able to get our message through.

So, if you won’t listen to our proposals, may I ask you a few questions:

What do you intend to do -and I mean do, not just talk about – getting our countries and the citizens who elected you out of the hole we are in? Deregulation and austerity have failed. What will you do to put our economies back on track?

We welcome the interest you are showing towards European industrial policy. But what are you proposing? What do you intend to do with the European Parliament’s proposals on restructuring?

What do you intend to do to stop downward competition on wages, on taxation, on working conditions?

What do you intend to do so that the European trade union can, unwaveringly, continue to defend the European project?

And then, what is your message to European citizens who will be voting next May? What is your programme? How can you win their trust that you can change things for the better?

I will end in expressing our serious concern, which I know many of you share.

There is in our countries a widespread and very worrying feeling that democratically elected politicians are not strong enough or determined enough to get us out of this dead-end and lead us to a better future. This leads inexorably to bitter disillusion towards the worth of the European project. Populist parties on all sides take, and will take, advantage of this in many countries. I leave it to you to list them.

In the better-off countries, frightened by such simplistic rants, there is an inclination to dissociate and aim for “less Europe”. That isn’t the solution either.

We want our political leaders to meet the challenges. We want to be able to trust them. Today the ball is in your court.

Bernadette Ségol

Secretary General of the ETUC

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