efa meps march 2018.jpg
Hudghton (Greens/EFA) - Mr President, our Group can support the guidelines at this stage, but will make a judgement on the overall budget later in the year, depending on the outcome of various policy debates that are of key concern to us. Firstly, the EU must be able to welcome new member states in the best possible circumstances, meaning that they must be able to fully benefit from the funds originally earmarked for them at Berlin by switching, if necessary, underspends from accession to pre-accession, depending on the pace of individual countries. Secondly, another matter related to enlargement is the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. Instead of getting into a heated debate about whether or not to give the new member states direct payments, would we not do better to concentrate our energies on reforming the Common Agricultural Policy by encouraging integrated rural development schemes and sound environmental working practices suitable not only for the existing Member States but for our applicant countries too? The third area of concern is the funds available in category 4 (external policy). Every year we face new international crises and we want to help solve them. We have a duty to help solve them, but if this has to be done year after year without new money, then of course we will run out of money and will have to make difficult decisions such as cutting off aid to one poor area to help another, or spreading our aid so thinly that it does not have the desired effect anywhere. Surely this cannot be our aim. Also in this respect, we would like to know to what extent countries which receive aid will be encouraged and enabled to tender for contracts in public works and services themselves, so as to give long-term benefits to their own economies.