Hudghton (Greens/EFA) - Mr President, I should like to add my tribute for the huge amount of work that has been put into the process of the budget so far by the rapporteurs, coordinators and indeed the chairman of the committee. I welcome much of the output of the committee so far. In one of the smaller budget lines they proposed an increase for town twinning. I would invite the Commission to put an end to the annual skirmish on this subject and accept that this is a budget line that is relatively small but very keenly felt, appreciated and depended upon by many Community organisations. On agriculture and rural development, I support the idea of increasing aid to less-favoured areas where agricultural production faces very serious and particular challenges in economic terms. I would like to encourage, in general, moves to boost rural development to get a more appropriate targeting of available resources in rural areas from EU funding, while ensuring that the incentives are there in order to encourage the rearing of livestock and the growing of crops by the most natural methods possible. On fisheries, I am very disappointed that the Council seemed so unwilling to fund adequately its own CFP reform programme. I am particularly disappointed that Parliament's proposal to provide an additional EUR 150 million to address some of the serious economic and social consequences of the current crisis in white-fish-dependent areas has been blocked by Member States, in particular the UK Government. I agree with those who have commented upon the idiotic proposal to award ourselves additional taxi allowances outwith the budgetary process. I do not see how that particular idea is going to help the reputation of this establishment or make a contribution to activity based budgeting.

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