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Who is who in the new European Parliament committees

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When we first floated the idea to publish a magazine on the committees of the European Parliament, enthusiasm was low. It couldn't be that interesting, could it? But the ones who thought this would be a dull exercise, were very wrong.


BUDG The European Commission proposed to increase the EU budget from 1.03 to 1.11 percent. As Brexit will mean that net-contributing countries will have to pay more, a big debate is on its way. By Koert Debeuf Budgets The EU debate on its own resources In May 2019, the European Commission proposed to increase the EU budget from 1.03 percent to 1.11 percent of all European economies combined. Germany calculated that its contribution will double, while the contribution of the Netherlands would go up by 75 percent. This figure will be the basis of the debate on the socalled Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF), which is Brussels-bubble speak for the EU budget for the next seven years. That is the reason why five net contributors – Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Sweden – have asked not to increase the EU's budget and stick to the one percent. The last MFF started in 2014 and ends in 2020. The next one will start in 2021 and end in 2027. The increase was then seen as high, but less so than expected. Compared to this other federation, the United States, one percent is still a very low number, as the federal government in Washington has a budget of around 20 percent of the GDP of the country. Until the First World War however, the US federal budget was not much higher than one percent too, with the postal service as the largest federal budgetary post. A third challenge, Van Overtveldt said, will be "the question of the own resources of the EU and whether or not there will be more EU fiscal revenues or not." The fact that the European economy – and certainly the German economy – is doing less well than predicted, will make the discussions on increasing the EU budget even tougher. So, for Van Overtveldt, it is clear that he will be happy if his committee succeeds "in reaching an MFF in which the member states can find themselves, one that will strengthen the credibility of the EU and the socialeconomic fabric." In other words, the EU budget is still rather small. But this doesn't mean that the discussions on the next MFF will not be substantial. Johan Van Overtveldt (ECR, Belgium), the chairman of the committee that coordinates the discussions on the MFF, or BUDG, obviously sees "reaching an agreement on the next MFF" as the committee's priority number one. The coordinators are: José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, Portugal), Eider Gardiazabal (S&D, Spain), Valérie Hayer (Renew, France), Rasmus Andresen (Greens/ EFA, Germany), Joachim Kuhs (ID, Germany), Bogdan Rzonca (ECR, Poland), Younous Omarjee (GUE/GNL, France). A second challenge, according to him, will be "the absorption of what comes out of the Brexit saga". Brexit has two major consequences on the budget. First of all, the UK's contribution to the EU disappears from the budget. This will need to be compensated, mainly by net-contributors (countries that pay more than they receive.) A second consequence is that the European Commission wants to abolish all rebates when the UK, the mother of all rebates, leaves the Union. Johan Van Overtveldt (ECR, Belgium) chairs the BUDG committee. Source: EP 12 — EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT COMMITTEES

CONT Fighting corruption and cutting red tape By Eszter Zalan Budgetary Control Fighting corruption, enforcement of the rule of law, simplifying rules and procedures on the EU budget, and an effective public prosecutor's office - this is what the chair of the budget control committee expects from the next five years. As EU countries debate the next longterm budget for the bloc, and how to link the respect for the rule of law and the fight against corruption to EU funds, the budget control committee (CONT) will continue to play a central part in defending the EU budget. MEP Monika Hohlmeier (EPP, Germany), chair of the committee knows this can be a touchy subject for member states. "I believe that one of the most sensitive, yet extremely important topics on our agenda in the committee will be the continued fight against corruption. In a small number of cases, national governments may be involved, which could make the debate highly political," Hohlmeier told EUobserver. "Therefore, it is crucial to improve the strict enforcement of the rule of law in all member states," she added. Chairwoman Monika Hohlmeier (EPP, Germany) says all member states should be under scrutiny. Photo: European Parliament Hohlmeier expects that the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), which will start operating in 2020, makes "a strong contribution in combatting cross-border VAT-fraud, money laundering and crimes against the EU's financial interests". Because of these activities, the EU is losing out an enormous amounts of revenue, according to some estimates around €95bn in VAT-fraud alone every year, the committee chair highlighted. "EU money is taxpayers' money, and the budget control committee ensures that it is spent correctly, efficiently and in a purposeful way," she said. One of the key points on the agenda for the committee for the next five years will be the simplification of rules and procedures and the reduction of 'gold-plating', the addition of national rules and requirements to an already quite complex EU legislation, Hohlmeier said. "Unfortunately, the existing rule of law mechanism in the Lisbon Treaty is not working properly. Thus, there is still a lot to be done to get ahead with creating an effective and transparent rule of law legislation," the politician from the Bavarian Christian Social Union party said. "CONT must ensure that the rule of law mechanism becomes effective and is applied equally in all member states - without exception! I believe that we in CONT should focus on the big issues and point our finger to issues of systemic failures in a constructive approach to increase our impact," Hohlmeier added. Hohlmeier said she is delighted that the parliament's candidate for the top prosecutor position, Laura Kovesi, was confirmed recently. "For EPPO to become a success it is of utmost importance to ensure that it is adequately equipped for having a serious impact. Achieving this is an important goal for CONT," the MEP said. As committee chair, Hohlmeier wants to avoid that EU citizens pay more taxes because "fraudsters and criminals keep cheating the EU" for their own purposes. "One of the issues that the European Court of Auditors repeatedly finds to cause errors in relation to the use of EU financial means is the complexity of rules and procedures, particularly in the areas of agriculture, cohesion, and research and innovation," she said. The coordinators: Tomas Zdechovsky (EPP, Czech Republic), Claudiu Manda (S&D, Romania), Olivier Chastel (Renew, Belgium), Mikulas Peksa (Greens/EFA, Czech Republic), Joachim Kuhs (ID, Germany), Ryszard Czarnecki (ECR, Poland), Luke Ming Flanagan (GUE/ NGL, Ireland). EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT COMMITTEES — 13

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