EU recovery plan agreed at a “sour price”

The European Economic and Social Committee has raised concerns over the the deal reached by European leaders.
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By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

24 Jul 2020

On Tuesday, July 21, EU leaders clinched an historic deal on a massive stimulus plan for their coronavirus-throttled economies after a fractious summit lasting almost five days.

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

The Council will now enter into talks with the European Parliament over the package. MEPs have been quick to point out that they have the final say on the agreement reached at the summit.

But the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has voiced concern at proposed cuts to the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the EU’s next long-term budget.

In a statement, the committee, which represents civil society, says the deal that emerged from the marathon gathering of EU leaders came “at a sour price.”

“We are sure that the European Parliament will fully exercise its role in the incoming negotiations with the Council for finding sustainable and resilient solutions on these crucial points” EESC Statement

It adds, “For the first time, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) has decreased, also in real terms, and the rebates increased, despite the UK's departure.”

It continues, “Respect for the rule of law is not properly reasserted and on the own-resources, the Council has been too prudent.”

The EESC says it has “serious concerns” about cuts “which are not acceptable on some key sectors of the long-term budget (MFF).” These, it says, “are of paramount importance for investing in our common future.”

There are numerous areas under threat, it says, including research, Erasmus, migration and asylum, external action, defence, the Just Transition Fund, InvestEU, health, digitalisation and rural development. “These are just to mention a few,” adds the EESC, an organisation based in Brussels.

“We are sure that the European Parliament will fully exercise its role in the incoming negotiations with the Council for finding sustainable and resilient solutions on these crucial points.”

The statement goes on to say, though, that the fiscal package agreed at the summit “paves the way for a European recovery and relaunch.”

It says, “Europe, whether the populists like it or not, is alive and kicking, ready to act for the well-being of future generations. Now all the governments have to seize this historic opportunity and prepare as soon as possible sound and consistent national plans to implement the NextGenerationEU.”

“The European Parliament must do everything possible to get as much out of the future programmes and the rule of law” Sven Giegold MEP (DE, Greens/EFA)

It adds, “Some leaders have proven that they can be much more European than others and history will remember those who had courage and vision, the others risk to be forgotten.”

However, German MEP Sven Giegold was more critical, accusing EU leaders of “short-sightedness.” He told The Parliament Magazine the agreement was made “at the expense of the joint future programmes and the rule of law.”

He added, “The European Parliament must do everything possible to get as much out of the future programmes and the rule of law.”

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