I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Croatia*, Turkey and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA countries Liechtenstein, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
At the outset, I would like to thank His Excellency the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for presenting the United Nation´s Proposed Programme Budget for the Biennium 2008-2009. My thanks also to the President of the ACABQ, Mr. Rajat Saha, for presenting his Committee´s report.
The Proposed Programme Budget of the UN is a strategic instrument of the utmost importance. As we had the opportunity to reiterate during last month´s general debate, the European Union has always conferred the highest priority to these deliberations. The full implementation of mandates, in light of the principles set out in GA Resolution 60/1 and including the mandates of UN reform, is very important to the future of this Organization. We are ready for a constructive approach to the Secretary-General´s proposals, which must be examined on their individual merits. We will be guided by two principles:
- Ensuring that the Secretary-General has adequate funding for the implementation of all mandates;
Promoting sound management and strict budgetary and fiscal discipline, effective use of resources and a results-based approach.
Your budget proposal amounts to close to 4.2 billion USD, a very modest increase vis a vis the revised appropriation for the current biennium, but less so if compared with the budget agreed in December 2005 . Also, this figure does not show the full cost of the activities to be financed under the regular budget during the main part of this session, since it leaves out the preliminary estimates for recosting and does not include a number of initiatives that will be under consideration in the GA, other proposals we understand are likely to be presented in the near future, not to mention the several PBIs likely to emerge from the decisions of the main committees. All in all, the total amount of the proposals expected could bring the final budget figure to close to 4.8 billion USD.
This, the European Union must clearly state, is a very substantial increase that cannot be simply underwritten in its entirety. It will need to be carefully considered taking into account budgetary constraints and cost effectiveness. We are, collectively, the largest contributor of the UN in terms of assessed contributions, currently at a record high. We expect the UN to exercise the same budgetary discipline that its member States are required to.
We acknowledge that these large increases are only partially due to new mandates and that a significant part is also due to inflation and exchange rate fluctuations beyond your control.
We commend the Secretariat for its efforts in presenting a full and transparent picture of the amounts involved, but must stress that some of the current add-ons to the budget could have been included in your initial submission. Some others, however, cannot be fully justified by referring to standing mandates and will have to be prioritized. We concur with the ACABQ that this piecemeal approach to budgeting undermines the budgetary system and budget discipline. We therefore trust that, in the future, the current budgetary process, as set out in GA resolutions 41/213 and 42/211 will be fully respected.
We would like to make clear that we believe that the financing of new activities under fiscal discipline, however, implies serious consideration of redeployment and finding cross-cutting economies. The best way of doing so is to ensure that the budgetary debate is expanded so as to include a close scrutiny of recurrent expenditures. To reach the objective of an efficient programme budget, cost-reductions may also be considered. We will seek the Secretariat´s cooperation in this regard. Furthermore, we see merit in striving toward proper implementation of results-based management.
It is clear that the budget negotiations of the forthcoming weeks will not be only about the current proposal, but also about all other proposals to be included in the final revised appropriation. We will work constructively with all delegations to bring that final appropriation to a manageable figure, and will actively pursue, in the course of the informal consultations, ways to find cross-cutting economies while seeking to ensure that the established mandates of the Organization are properly resourced and fiscal discipline observed.
Thank you very much.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.