Auteur: Honor Mahony
EUOBSERVER / NAPLES - A substantial number of EU governments would like to curb the power of the European Parliament over the EU budget, it emerged during talks on the EU Constitution in Naples.
The UK, France, Sweden, Ireland and the Netherlands are among the several states that have backed the unilateral proposals made by EU finance ministers recently.
Under these proposals, the European Parliament would lose its power over Europe's purse, and decisions on the financial perspectives, which set the spending ceiling for the EU, would only be made unanimously and not by qualified majority voting.
A Commission spokesperson brushed the attack off, although the EU executive sided strongly with the European Parliament during the talks this morning.
"It has to be accepted that the vast majority are in favour of the Convention proposal", he said.
However, the two European Parliament representatives in the talks have reacted with less equanimity.
"This is the issue for the European Parliament", said German MEP Elmar Brok. He went on to add that if it was decided that the Parliament would lose control over the budget it would create "uproar" which would then cloud all other debate on the Constitution among MEPs.
"All finance ministers believe that Parliaments cannot behave responsibly with money", said Mr Brok.
Klaus Haensch, the other euro-parliamentarian in the talks said that he thought there would only be decision on the issue right at the very end of talks - foreseen at the December summit in just over two weeks.
He said it was accepted that own resources (direct tax) was an issue for member states, financial perspectives was something to be balanced between the parliament and the member states and that the budget is something for the Parliament alone.
Both men are waiting to see what the final result will be before deciding how to act.
However, head of the Constitutional Affairs Committee in the European Parliament, Giorgio Napolitano, gave an indication of what could happen if the finance ministers' proposals are taken on board.
Speaking to a gathering of MEPs and MPs earlier this week, Mr Napolitano said that the assembly "might even wage a campaign" against the Constitution being ratified in member states if its power over the EU budget is taken away.