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Conclusion: Hearing on EU Budget Commissioner

Janusz Lewandowski performed well at his interview before the joint meeting of the Budget and Budgetary Control Committees of the European Parliament. A Pole from the governing centre-right Civic Platform, he studiously avoided offending most MEPs and committed himself to defending the Common Agricultural Policy and Structural Funds from budgetary cut backs or “renationalisation”. These comments satisfied left and right wing politicians, who come from member states with large farming sectors or poorer regions. He also subscribed to a not very specific reform agenda that included better auditing. When invited by the UK Independence Party’s Marta Andreasen at the end of the meeting to freeze spending increases while 10 to 15 percent of the EU’s annual budget is underspent, he was noncommittal. The Chairman of the Budgetary Control Committee, Luigi De Magistris, also pressured him on the same point asking him to do “naming and shaming” of member states who are irresponsible with EU finances. In response to Anne Jensen of the Liberal Group, he rejected the idea of direct EU taxation even if it would make the EU more directly accountable to the citizens.

Sadly the British Conservatives were absent from the debate, which is disappointing in view of their commitment to cut public spending.

All in all Janusz Lewandowski’s should satisfy the three major groups (EPP, SD and ALDE) and the major recipient interests in the EU. His nomination to this post by Jose Barroso is a symbol of how important Poland has become in the EU and a clear indication that the new Commission is unlikely to propose major changes to the Budget in the lead up to 2012. Lewandowski knows perfectly well that both contributor and recipient member states have enough votes to block a qualified majority for reform and ensure the status quo. The nomination of a Romanian with close links to France to the Agriculture portfolio in the Commission means that changes are even less likely.

 

Posted on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 05:19PM by Registered CommenterDr Giacomo Benedetto | CommentsPost a Comment

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