Budget compromise fails to address the big problems

Conservative MEPs today opposed a compromise budget package for the European Union.

A majority of MEPs ultimately supported the series of amending budgets for 2014, along with a package of spending and commitments for 2015, but the UK’s Conservative MEPs spoke and voted against.

The revised figures and supporting statements were arrived at during a round of urgent negotiation between the European Parliament and EU Council after initial talks ended in deadlock earlier this month.
Richard Ashworth MEP, Conservative spokesman on budgets, said the agreement represented some progress, but had dodged key challenges.

The South East MEP said: “In terms of figures, this budget is a step in the right direction with a renewed focus on jobs and growth that reflects the political guidelines of the new Commission.
“The figures fall below the initial Commission proposal and far below what Parliament was demanding. However it is simply a straight compromise between the Parliament and Council.

“The deal offers little concrete in terms of addressing outstanding budgetary issues including the payments crisis.

“More needs to be done in terms of making unpalatable decisions about where we cut the budget. The process needs to deliver better value for money and to better reflect the budgetary restraint being taken by member states.”

However, Mr Ashworth said simply criticising the budget would not be helpful.

With this in mind he put forward a platform of proposed structural reform to improve the whole budget process and enhance accountability.

Suggestions included:

1. More and better scrutiny by the Parliament, accompanied by better monitoring of outcomes.
2. An Office for Budgetary Responsibility to examine both the viability of spending plans and their likely success.
3. Closer engagement in the budget process of member states – where 80 per cent of EU spending actually takes place.

Mr Ashworth said: “Instead of the Parliament always asking for more money, we need to work on finding longer-term solutions. This should let both the Parliament and the member states regain control of the budget – to ensure more bang for our buck.”

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