The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, attacked the deal reached on the next long-term EU budget by EU leaders
While no one would suggest that the deal represents perfection, I would criticise Mr Schulz’s somewhat misleading analysis of the agreement.
Firstly, we must remember that member states are operating in the most restrictive economic and fiscal environment in history. They are making budget cuts across the board, mostly at the request of the European Union itself.
Secondly, a closer examination of the deal reveals that there has been some shift towards future-orientated investment with an extra 37 per cent (or €34bn) for education, research and innovation, shifting money away from the direct subsidies given to farmers.
If Mr Schulz is serious about more money being spent in growth enhancing areas of the budget then he must have the courage to confront MEP’s themselves, who have frequently rejected any idea that funds should be moved from historic areas of expenditure to those which enhance Europe’s future competitiveness.
Sadly, Mr Schulz is instead proposing that MEPs should be allowed to vote on budget in a secret ballot safe from the legitimate scrutiny of either their domestic political leaders or their respective electorates. It is a confrontational and unnecessary attempt to create a rift between the Parliament and national governments when the sensible approach would be to seek accord.
Indeed, it is ironic that President Schulz, who criticised the European Council for an alleged lack of transparency in negotiating the budget agreement behind closed doors; is now the person calling for a secret ballot in parliament.
While the agreed budget is by no means ideal, we should agree to what is a pragmatic solution secured in difficult times.
Any move by MEPs to reject the budget would lead to a crisis and a serious blow to Europe’s image in the eyes of its citizens and voters.