Money and friendship rarely mix and the EU institutions make no exception. Since 2009, Parliament has not granted discharge to the annual budgets of the Council, representing Member States' governments, mainly claiming a lack of transparence. The row over roughly €500 million annually is not helping inter-institutional relations, so the EP's Budgetary Control Committee organised a hearing with legal experts on how to find ways to improve matters. Some members think that the answer isn't all that difficult. When you put money in a bank, you look to the bank to tell you if your money is safe there. You don't look to the people who took loans from the bank and do not return the money. We put the money with the Commission. It's the role of the Commission. Harmoniously, the three main EU institutions are taking part in the opening of the annual General Assembly of the United Nations. A new EU office was inaugurated in New York, and while the President of the European Council addressed the Assembly, Parliament is represented by Vice-President Othmar Karas. For the first time, Parliament is part of the official EU delegation. I find this particularly important because we have to work towards a parlamentarisation and democratisation of global decision mechanisms, and we have to do it as a team – the Commission, Council and Parliament. We don't know if he came baring gifts, but Greek opposition leader Alexis Tsipras visited Parliament on Thursday to exchange views with its President. At a press conference, and against the background of growing protests against government policy in Greece, Tsipras called for an international debt conference for Greece, modelled on the one held for Germany after the Second World War.
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