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EU Budget does not prioritise eradication of poverty or social exclusion - Mary Lou McDonald

27 October, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has today called for an EU budget which prioritises combating poverty, social exclusion and regional disparities. Speaking after the first reading of the EU budget for 2006, Ms McDonald has said that that "unfortunately, the proposed Budget does not reflect these important objectives".

Ms McDonald made her comments as an informal EU summit in Hampton Court, England got underway to discuss the economic future of the EU.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms McDonald said:

"Today there are 98 million people living at risk from poverty across the EU. There are more than 20 million people unemployed. Huge disparities continue to exist across the Union and within each member state in terms of infrastructure, economic development and standards of living. Inequality and discrimination continue to scar the lives of millions.

"Despite all of this the political and economic priorities, as laid out in the proposed EU budget for 2006, are not geared towards tackling these problems. Indeed, the main thrust of the budget is to follow those economic and social policies which are partly to blame for this situation.

"We are now half-way thought the 10-year ŒLisbon Agenda‚, the EUs principle economic framework. The Lisbon Agenda promised to 'make a decisive impact on the eradication of poverty' by 2010. However there has been little meaningful progress. Indeed much of the contents of the proposed budget will actively undermine this goal.

"Sinn Féin wants to see a budget which shifts the priorities of EU economic policy away from the sectional interests of big business or the larger member states, and towards the needs of people across the region. Such a policy would require a rebalancing of priorities in such a way as sustainable development and social cohesion are given equal weight to economic competitiveness." ENDS

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