David Sassoli: EU long-term budget ‘needs correcting’ and Parliament will try to ‘improve’ it

Parliament’s President said that while the assembly is “satisfied” with the €750bn recovery plan to deal with the COVID-19 health crisis, proposed cuts in certain areas of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) need to be rectified.
European Parliament Audiovisual

By Martin Banks

22 Jul 2020

Speaking at a news conference in Parliament on Wednesday, David Sassoli said that he welcomed the result of the European Council and the “shared spirit” in which the talks were held, adding, “this is what we need now.”

European Union leaders clinched an historic deal on a massive stimulus plan for their Coronavirus-battered economies in the early hours of Tuesday, after a fractious summit lasting almost five days.

Leaders hope the €750 billion recovery fund and its related €1.1 trillion 2021-2027 budget will help repair the continent’s deepest recession since World War Two after the Coronavirus outbreak shut down economies.

Looking back at the protracted summit, Sassoli said, “After days of discussions, European citizens expect an agreement that lives up to this historical moment. We are worried about a future where European solidarity and the Community method are lost.”

“We now need to try and improve the MMF. Some of the cuts that have been proposed need to be corrected. If they are not then that will make it impossible for the EU to reach its own objectives, for example, the European Green Deal, and the other great challenges of the modern world.”

This was a reference to proposed cuts to several EU programmes, such as the Erasmus educational scheme, as well as research and asylum funding.

“Some of the cuts that have been proposed need to be corrected. If they are not then that will make it impossible for the EU to reach its own objectives, for example, the European Green Deal, and the other great challenges of the modern world”

He added, “How can we cut funds for migration and asylum? That would make our response to the migration crisis weaker.”

In its conclusions the Council also proposed that the EU Just Transition Fund, a climate action programme, is cut by a third and, on this, Sassoli said, “If we don’t help other countries [on climate action] how can we meet our own Green Deal objectives?”

He warned, “I would remind you that Parliament, as the budgetary authority, will have the final word on this, not Member States. That is why we have to correct mistakes in the MFF and I still hope that there will be a positive result on this.”

“Parliament has set out its priorities and it expects them to be met. The multiannual financial framework must be able to address the main challenges facing Europe in the medium term, such as the Green Deal, digitalisation, economic resilience, and the fight against inequalities.”

“We would like talks to be opened now with Parliament. We want to improve the MFF proposal and some of the planned cuts are unjustified. We cannot cut the budget for things like research, Erasmus and asylum so we now need to start talks so that we can reach an MFF that is more useful for our citizens.”

He said, “On Thursday, I expect that Parliament will put forward a resolution that restates this. There was also a broad majority at a meeting today of a Conference of Presidents in support of this stance. We need to go into the substance of the MFF.”

“I would remind you that Parliament, as the budgetary authority, will have the final word on this, not Member States. That is why we have to correct mistakes in the MFF and I still hope that there will be a positive result on this”

“I still believe that it will be possible to change the MFF. I am convinced by this. We are very satisfied with the recovery plan and Parliament will explain the need for certain changes to the MFF. More has to be done and talks need to start. Some of the things in the MFF needs to be changed and these changes would be in the interests of everyone. We must hold strong on this.”

He said, “After these very, very long talks, Council respected the other EU institutions’ competences and Parliament must be listened to. We represent the voices of citizens and our position is very important. I believe our views will be listened to and we will be part of this process.”

He said the final vote on the MFF would “not be at the plenary this week but in two months’ time.”

“We first need talks on this and to see where more analysis is needed but, as we know from the past, it is often difficult to come up with a final proposal on the budget.”

He said he met to discuss the summit with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday, adding, “What I heard from her is that there is an intention to reflect further on the budget and to hold discussions. We are ready to put forward our proposals.”

MEPs will debate the 17-21 July EU summit results with Council and Commission presidents Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday.

“I still believe that it will be possible to change the MFF. I am convinced by this. We are very satisfied with the recovery plan and Parliament will explain the need for certain changes to the MFF. More has to be done and talks need to start”

To wind up the extraordinary plenary debate, MEPs will adopt, on the same day, a resolution on the MFF, an “Own Resources” system and a “Recovery Plan for Europe.”

MEPs will set out their conditions in Thursday’s plenary resolution and the assembly’s negotiating team will take up negotiations with the German EU presidency.

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