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Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Giorgos Katrougalos, attends EU Budget Conference (Sofia, 9 March 2018)
Alternate Foreign Minister, Giorgos Katrougalos, today participated in the High-Level Conference on the European Union's Multiannual Financial Framework following 2020, which was held in Sofia on the initiative of the Bulgarian Presidency. Mr. Katrougalos stressed that the debate cannot take place without bearing in mind the Italian elections, which once again pointed up the EU’s existential crisis in the face of the surge in inequalities within and between member states.
The Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs highlighted the need for an EU with a social profile, internally cohesive, that enhances its competitiveness and international influence. Strengthening of democracy and transparency in the EU, enhancement of the social dimension and the establishment of a clear link between decision making and accountability are necessary conditions for formulating a budget with a clear European orientation.
Mr. Katrougalos presented Greece’s proposals, which are set out in a unofficial document that the Greek government submitted to the European Commission. As he noted, the debate on the new budget must serve as a springboard for relaunching the Union’s convergence process, with the aim of further promoting European democratic and social values. He stressed that solidarity and respect for rule of law should be reflected in all of the EU’s policies, and he reiterated the position taken by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at the recent informal Summit Meeting in Brussels: that the EU should introduce specific provisions for positive incentives and conditions related to binding social indicators in the context of the European Semester process.
Mr. Katrougalos also stressed the Greek government’s argument that the resources of the Union’s financial framework following 2020 must match or exceed current levels. He stressed that, for the Greek government, unconditional funding priorities for the Union’s next financial framework include strengthening development, dealing with social and economic inequalities between and within the member states, combating poverty, and eradicating social exclusion. The Greek government also supports the need for new policies on research and development, migration, digital economy, and European defence.
Thus, Mr. Katrougalos concluded, there arises the unavoidable need to introduce real new own resources that will not burden European citizens, such as imposing a tax on financial transactions, taxing large internet companies, and introducing a common tax base of enterprises. The Greek government sees the introduction of real new EU own resources as the only choice for the EU, so that a definitive end can be put to the logic of ‘fair return’ on the part of wealthier states – the so-called ‘net contributors’ – which continues to poison every negotiation on the budget.