What are the biggest challenges facing the committee and how do you plan to tackle them?
Obviously, the negotiations about the MFF, which will determine the direction for the coming years. This is not going to be easy, because there is a need for common ground between both the European institutions and also between Parliament’s political groups.
This a more diverse Parliament than the previous legislature, and this needs to be taken into account; it hasn’t got any easier to ﬁnd majorities. We reached an agreement on the budget for 2020.
It’s truly a turning point with future-oriented choices. It’s no longer an old-fashioned European budget, it has more emphasis on research, innovation and technology in response to challenges. I hope that we can deliver a multi-annual budget that will continue to build on this.
Also, I’m convinced that we have to exercise sufficient budget orthodoxy and that every Euro needs to be spent efficiently.
This is essential for reconnecting with our citizens; they really don’t need expensive promises that cannot be kept. This is where Europe can seize the chance to gain trust. The same is true for ﬁnancing the European Commission’s Green Deal.
I believe that a large majority backs the principles of this project, but everything will, of course, depend on ﬁnancing.
“This a more diverse Parliament than the previous legislature, and this needs to be taken into account; it hasn’t got any easier to find majorities”
To put it kindly, I can only note that the ﬁnancial narrative surrounding the Green Deal, as proposed by the Commission, currently has too many loose ends.
In which policy areas do you think citizens will see the greatest benefit from your work over the coming years?
It’s not so much about “my work” but about the contribution of Parliament in the budget negotiations. Choices are made in that budget and options are taken on the future.
As chair, I also represent Parliament in those negotiations, and I try to emphasise these things personally. We have to commit ourselves to those projects where Europe can offer substantial added value due to the scale.
In addition, the economist in me follows the developments in monetary and economic matters with a considerable passion.
Some of these domains may be a bit out of reach for citizens, but they remain fascinating and of great importance to how our economy and our society functions.
The entire discussion around the internet giants is also of paramount importance. These companies can deliver formidable results, but they have a hint of monopoly to them. This is bad for the citizens and the economy, in short, for all of society.
What are your priority areas for investment in the multiannual financial framework?
I’m convinced that we have to rise to the challenges of research, development and innovation.
“Brexit will obviously have an impact on the budget. We will have to reach an agreement on how we compensate for this”
As the EU, we can make a difference in this. Innovation can help us ﬁnd answers to many of the challenges regarding climate change.
However, it goes further than that; by differentiating ourselves this way we can also strengthen our competitive position, and that of the Member States, on an international level.
What will be the impact of Brexit on the budget and how will the EU cope without their financial support?
Brexit will obviously have an impact on the budget. We will have to reach an agreement on how we compensate for this.
I strongly advocate for personally making an effort to see where efficiency gains can be achieved and where money can be saved.
This will also generate a discussion over potential new own resources for the EU. It is a good discussion to have, because it will force us to seriously think about the kind of future we want for the EU.