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The EP’s rebellion

Hannes Swoboda (S&D group leader), Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Greens group leader), Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE group leader) during the EP Plenary session in May 2012

Hannes Swoboda (S&D group leader), Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Greens group leader), Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE group leader) during the EP Plenary session in May 2012

The European Parliament, by its main parliamentary leaders, announced its intention to reject the budget deal done by the European Council, after several hours of harsh and difficult negotiations between the EU Member-States. According to them, the multiannual financial framework is not going to enhance the EU competitiveness and in the interest of the European citizens.

Socialists, liberals, ecologists and conservatives are determined to reject an agreement favouring austerity and the selfishness of member-States despites the European Council Chairman’s warning, Herman Van Rompuy, to take its responsibilities. But this warning was immediately ignored by Joseph Daul (EPP group leader), Guy Verhofstadt (Liberal group leader), Hannes Swoboda (S&D group leader) and Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Ecologist group leader), considering the European Council did not negotiate with the MEPs before.

The EP – the MEPs rather – is trying to take an initiative and impose its views even if it means rejecting with no qualms, a harshly and finally disappointing deal. Acting like that, the MEPs want to send the European Council the following message: the Brussels and Strasbourg hemicycle represents the European citizens and defend their interests and such a principle should not be questioned by them especially if the future and the credibility of Europe are at stake.

This message is particularly sent to the national leaders and to David Cameron more especially, the UK Prime minister considered by some analysts as the main winner of the EU budgetary deal insofar as he finally imposed his views with the full support (not to say the benediction) of Germany. What is more, Great-Britain affords itself the luxury of maintaining some of its advantages as his rebate, which does not clearly satisfies  some Member-States as Italy but also some political groups at the European Parliament, all denouncing the UK conservative leader’s attitude.

David Cameron, UK Prime minister meeting Herman Van Rompuy, Chairman of the European Council at Brussels (Belgium)

David Cameron, UK Prime minister meeting Herman Van Rompuy, Chairman of the European Council at Brussels (Belgium)

The EP wants to reaffirm itself vis-à-vis the European Council and the Commission within the EU decision-making process. During a too long moment, this assembly was regarded as weak face to the demands of the EU national leaders and the technocrats, preventing it to play its role totally. Nonetheless, the EP, with its threat to reject the 2014 – 2020 EU budget, does not express its reluctances only, it also reminds its prerogatives which were ignored by the European Council and by Herman Van Rompuy and David Cameron apparently. In fact, the Parliament is about to start a power struggle with the European Council and to force it to negotiate but also take in consideration its position and reconsider the deal finally. If the European Council decides to disregard, it might be disowned by the EP who has a comfortable majority to reject the budget. Moreover, the MEPs, led by their respective leaders and aware of their power, will want to go on, in order to appear as credible towards the EU citizens.

European Parliament, Strasbourg

European Parliament, Strasbourg

Thus, it is highly probable a new (inter-institutional) negotiation is about to open within the EU to adopt an acceptable budget for everyone. Threatening to veto, the European Parliament reminds its prerogatives and is becoming aware of its political weight inside the decision-making process as a national parliament, thanks to the impulsion of some parliamentary leaders. Indeed, with no agreement coming from the Parliament (that is to say, the EU citizens), no budget and such a very important detail should strongly temper the satisfaction of David Cameron if the EP goes on and if it is not heard and respected.

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