Members of the European Parliament were shocked to find the European Council decide to hold negotiations over the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) near the end of 2019.
With the mandate for both the European Commission and European Parliament expiring in early 2019, many legislators are concerned over the move. Both institutions wish to take part in the negotiations, so were ready to make an agreement by the end of 2018, just before the mandates end.
However, EU leaders agreed in Brussels over the weekend of October 19-20 to postpone that deadline for twelve months. According to Ministers of European Parliament, such as Isabelle Thomas, member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, this is to ensure the Council would be able to make financial decisions alone.
EU-wide general elections are to be held in June 2019, meaning that newly-elected leaders would have just six months before the proposed October 2019 negotiations to prepare.
MEP Thomas argues that such a short amount of time is not sufficient for the new ministers. Furthermore, she argues there would not be time to take care of procedural matters in that time.
After the election, lawmakers would have to vote on committee members and presidents, leaving little time for meaningful discussion. Ms. Thomas believes there would be insufficient time to conclude negotiations in October 2019.
Furthermore, the French diplomat argues that with the rise of right-leaning, nationalistic representatives this delay is a tactic to remove more leftist lawmakers from the MFF negotiations. Ms. Thomas believes the current Parliament would be better able to represent the beliefs of the European people better than the next ideation of the body.
Ms. Thomas, who is also a member of the budget committee, agrees with the 441 other MEPs who voted on an October 24 resolution about the future of EU finances. Her, and many other representatives, believe the current MFF has certain inefficiencies that must be addressed.
Issues such as unemployment, migration and lack of investment are plaguing the continental bloc, and there are worries that the current budget cannot contain the strain. MEP Thomas believes the current 1% cap on the expenditure of EU gross national income must be raised to 1.23% to cope with the current climate.
This showdown between MEP and the European Council may go on for a long time. As Ms. Thomas pointed out on October 25th in Strasbourg, Parliament must mass any proposed budget from the Council, so the two sides will have to come together, sooner or later.
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