Lamassoure, no longer involved in day-to-day politics, described EU’s budget as an internationally unique system that, however, has its problems. There is a lack of parliamentary supervision, and it is also difficult to change the way resources are allocated, because the relative size of the budget stays the same.
Watch the video of the discussion. Session II: What budget for European policies? begins at 1:47. (Original language)
According to Lamassoure, to keep developing the system and making it more effective, the EU should always try to reach the so-called critical mass. This means that a large number of EU citizens should benefit from EU-funded projects directly or indirectly. This is how funding can lead to results instead of getting lost in small projects that only local politicians benefit from, he continued.
The discussion dealt with, for instance, national aspirations regarding the EU budget, and the funding of agricultural and cohesion policies. The funding of agricultural policy should be prepared to respond to the challenges of the 21st century instead of hanging onto the present situation, Lamassoure said.
Lamassoure believes that national parliaments could contribute to the promotion of transparency of the budgetary process together with the European Parliament. Today, he said, many budgetary decisions involving taxpayer money are made behind closed doors without parliamentary supervision.
When the discussion turned to the level of the budget, Lamassoure emphasized that “the European budget must be increased, if we want to do more”. Nowadays, the problem is that political decisions about new priorities do not lead to additional funding, he said. Lamassoure hoped that EU institutions’ possibilities to handle the EU budget would be improved, and that the European Council would make its policy orientations with a concrete budget in mind.
Hassi: Differing views about new budget
After the discussion, Satu Hassi, Speaker of the Grand Committee of the Parliament of Finland, noted that Member States have very different views about the new EU budget.
Older and more affluent Member States believe it is important to be prepared to change the structure of the budget to respond to the challenges of the new era, whereas poorer Member States emphasise, for example, the importance of cohesion funding, she said.
Hassi believes that the COSAC Chairpersons’ meeting gave the participants insight into different views on the budget, which will help them to see the negotiations as a whole. The meeting was an important experience for Finland in holding the presidency and preparing for the Plenary Meeting of the LXII COSAC in Helsinki in December, she said.
The COSAC Chairpersons’ meeting was the first conference organised by the Parliament of Finland during the Finnish EU presidency.