Derk Jan Eppink, on behalf of the ECR Group.
Mr President, I shall try to be briefer than the previous speaker. My group proposes to adopt the budget as agreed by the Council. It offers a small increase and that is a reasonable compromise. Keep in mind that EU Member States and citizens have to cut their budgets. Unfortunately, the debate on the budget had a false start. The Parliament demanded an increase of 6%, which was ludicrous and showed that this congregation was out of touch. Here, the debate was even inflamed by hotheads who wanted to kidnap the budget to force access to own resources, in other words EU taxation. We have always opposed that. Lisbon is clear on it. The Parliament has a right to advise, not a right to co-decide.
The Parliament lost this battle, as we predicted. Now it is moving to the position which the European Conservatives defended all along – a budget of 1% of GDP. The hotheads here must cool down, particularly the Greens. Just imagine that the EU had no budget next year while the euro was in a tailspin. Is that the image you want to offer the financial markets? They would not be at all happy.
I would like to congratulate the governments of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands for their principled position. I thank the Belgian Government for their role as honest broker and I thank the Commission for its knowledgeable and cool-headed work.