Budget proposal prioritises youth but lacks ambition
Today the European Commission released its proposal for a European budget for the next seven years.
PES president Sergei Stanishev said:
"The Commission's budget proposal is now on the table and negotiations can begin. The aim should be to strike a deal before the next parliamentary elections -- but we must avoid repeating the experience from 2014, when the whole process was significantly delayed.
"The proposal of the Commission departs considerably from the EP position, which was a solid base. We agree with the notion that every euro invested in the EU budget brings significant added value, but as it stands the level of ambition in the proposal does not answer the current needs.
"The proposal suggests investing more in Europe's youth. This is a positive start. The tools outlined in our European Youth Plan, including the Youth Guarantee, Erasmus programme, culture cheques and the Child Guarantee, must be at the top of the EU priorities. Our position on these proposals will be entirely based on whether the funding for youth initiatives will be adequate. This is the only way to express our genuine concern for young people in Europe.
"But there are also some very negative points that need to be reviewed. In particular, I regret that cohesion and agriculture policy are proposed for cuts. Striving for more cohesion and equality is at the core of the European project. Nobody should be left behind in either rural or urban areas. Europe's job is to bring about convergence, not further divergence. Cohesion policy is one of our best tools to bridge inequalities, so I hope that the upcoming negotiations on the EU budget will focus on strengthening those funds.
"This budget also includes the first recognition of the need for instruments that specifically target the eurozone.
"The breakdown into headings, outlining concrete priorities, is positive but the lack of a social Europe heading is noticeable and regrettable.
"We welcome the increased funding and attention to the new priorities of the EU such as border management and defence. However, this gives the impression of strengthening the idea of 'Fortress Europe' at the expense of other core policies.
"Concerning the CAP, we must ensure that food quality, small farms and rural areas' development are guaranteed and preserved.
"In the next seven years we must increase Europe's integration, solidarity and fairness."