MEPs warn their consent to EU long-term budget ‘cannot be taken for granted’

The warning on Monday comes from the cross-party group of MEPs who comprise Parliament’s negotiating team on the recovery fund and long-term budget.
Adobe Stock

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

27 Jul 2020

The six-strong group of MEPs says in a statement that under the proposed seven-year budget (MFF) “key programmes will be considerably shrunk.”

“This massive borrowing is an historical moment for the European Union and we should not disregard what happened. However, we regret that the Member States decided to entirely abandon the ‘bridge solution’ whose objective was precisely to provide immediate crisis response to the citizens, following the COVID-19 outbreak.”

“In a context where the virus is on the rise again, citizens need certainty.”

The six MEPs are Belgian ECR member Johan Van Overtveldt, chair of the committee on budgets; Polish EPP MEP Jan Olbrycht, MFF co-rapporteur; Portuguese Socialist deputy Margarida Marques, another MFF co-rapporteur; Portuguese EPP member José Manuel Fernandes, Own Resources co-rapporteur; French RE deputy Valérie Hayer, also Own Resources co-rapporteur, and Danish Greens MEP Rasmus Andresen.

MEPs must sign off on the huge financial package and inter-institutional negotiations are set to get underway this week.

The deputies voiced concern after EU leaders clinched an historic deal on July 21 on a massive stimulus plan for their Coronavirus-embattled economies after a fractious summit lasting almost five days.

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

“The picture is much more negative when it comes to the EU long-term budget. Parliament cannot accept the proposed record low ceilings as they mean renouncing the EU’s long-term objectives and strategic autonomy”

In the meantime, there are fresh increases in Coronavirus cases in several Member States including Spain, and the global death toll from the pandemic is now well over 600,000.

The group is also critical of the €750bn Coronavirus recovery fund, saying the funding should be made immediately available to those most in need.

They say that while the recovery fund, known as “Next Generation EU”, is an important step that can pave the way for a “greener, more competitive and digital EU”, they warn that “democratic oversight must be substantially increased.”

“Parliament, as one arm of the budgetary authority, will fight to be fully involved in the establishment and implementation” of the massive fiscal package, they say.

They are particularly scathing of proposed cuts to some EU programmes, such as Erasmus and the Horizon project.

“The picture is much more negative when it comes to the EU long-term budget [the MFF]. Parliament cannot accept the proposed record low ceilings as they mean renouncing the EU’s long-term objectives and strategic autonomy.”

Such cuts, the group says, come at a time when the public is asking for “more European solidarity, more European action in public health, in research and digitalisation, youth and in the historical fight against climate change.”

“The EU is now allowed to borrow funds but there is no certainty on how the debt will be repaid. Parliament has been clear: the recovery should not reduce investment capacities nor harm the national taxpayer”

“Key programmes to reach these objectives have been considerably shrunk and lost most of their top-ups under Next Generation EU. We will strive to secure improvements, including higher amounts, on future-oriented MFF programmes like Horizon, InvestEU, LIFE and Erasmus+.”

“If our conditions are not sufficiently met we will adopt the programmes on the basis of the existing MFF, as foreseen by the treaty.”

Parliament’s negotiators also say the deal agreed by EU leaders last week “is a flagrant missed opportunity when it comes to modernising the revenue side, making it fairer and more transparent.”

“The EU is now allowed to borrow funds but there is no certainty on how the debt will be repaid. Parliament has been clear: the recovery should not reduce investment capacities nor harm the national taxpayer.”

“This is why new genuine own resources are the solution to repay the common debt, but the plastic-based contribution will not do the trick alone.”

Meanwhile, EURORDIS-Rare Diseases Europe has called on the Commission, Parliament and Council to reverse the “drastic” reduction of funding to the EU health programme.

EURORDIS - an alliance of over 900 patient organisations representing the 30 million people living with a rare disease in Europe - “strongly supports” the Commission’s proposal for the ambitious €9.4bn standalone EU4Health Programme “which aligns with the desire of 70 percent of European citizens to see more health-related actions at the European level.”

Yann Le Cam, EURORDIS CEO, said, “In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, this showed a willingness to learn from the mistakes of the past and was a great step towards avoiding replicating them in the future.”

“But EURORDIS finds the Council’s recent decision to reduce the budget to €1.7bn coming from the Multiannual Financial Framework regrettable. It has a decisive impact on what can be achieved within this new framework.”

“We are very disappointed that even in the middle of a global pandemic, European leaders stepped away from an ambitious health programme rather than endorsing it. The Council’s drastic reduction of the health programme is unacceptable, and we urge Parliament to use its negotiating powers to reverse the decision.”

Read the most recent articles written by Martin Banks - MEPs welcome new Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe

Categories

EU Institutions
Share this page