S&D leader: Next seven-year EU budget falls short of what’s needed

Iratxe García Pérez has warned that her group will not accept any watering down of conditionality on the compliance with democracy and rule of law.
S&D Group leader Iratxe García Pérez | Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual

By Martin Banks

23 Jul 2020

García Pérez was speaking after this week's EU summit finally reached agreement on the budget and recovery fund.

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

Leaders hope that 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.

Reacting to the end of the five-day summit, García Pérez said of the budget proposal, “It doesn’t match the political ambitions expressed by the European Green Deal or the Digital Agenda.”

“It does not make sense to cut transformative policies such as Horizon Europe, the InvestEU Programme, Development and Humanitarian Aid, Erasmus+, or Digital Europe. These are the strategic policies we need in order to rebuild our geopolitical relevance, industrial autonomy and social cohesion” Iratxe García Pérez, S&D Group leader

“It does not make sense to cut transformative policies such as Horizon Europe, the InvestEU Programme, Development and Humanitarian Aid, Erasmus+, or Digital Europe. These are the strategic policies we need in order to rebuild our geopolitical relevance, industrial autonomy and social cohesion.”

She said, “Council reached a historical agreement and now it’s time for Parliament to have its say. To ensure the best accountability and transparency, Parliament and Council must be on an equal footing - not only when approving the next budget, but also regarding the governance of the Recovery Fund.”

“We acknowledge the magnitude of the Recovery Fund and the ground-breaking steps accepted by national governments, such as issuing joint debt. We have a roadmap to strengthen the EU’s own resources and we will push for it in the next months, as the only way for the EU to pay for the Recovery Fund with solidarity and without adding extra burden to citizens and to Member States.”

The Spanish member continued, “We will be very vigilant with the governance. We will not accept structural reforms imposed by any Member State. This time we are going to put people first when facing this crisis, and that means reaching a balance between the economic, social and ecological dimensions of our policies, in accordance with the European Green Deal.”

“We will not accept any watering down of conditionality on the compliance with democracy and rule of law. All authoritarian regimes should clearly understand that.”

Greens co-leader Philippe Lamberts, noted, “It is good news that EU leaders finally found an agreement on a common EU recovery fund. If in such exceptional circumstances, the EU leaders would have been unable to find common ground, the very raison d'être of the EU would have been dealt a massive blow.”

“With massive cuts in future investments under the umbrella of the EU budget, the EU governments do not keep their promise to invest in future generations” Philippe Lamberts, Greens co-leader

“The agreement comes at a high price though. In terms of volume, the €390bn of grants over three years will amount to less than one percent of the EU's GDP per year. Not negligible but far from what would actually be required. In the long run, with massive cuts in future investments under the umbrella of the EU budget, the EU governments do not keep their promise to invest in future generations.”

Further comment came from Vasco Cordeiro, president of the Government of Azores and President of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions, CPMR, who told this website, “I welcome and support the agreement reached this week, which preserves the essence of the Recovery Plan as proposed by the Commission, restates the centrality of cohesion policy for the recovery of Europe and increases co-financing rates for some categories of regions compared to previous proposals.”

He went on, “However, we remain concerned with some reductions to key EU policies and programmes such as the Just Transition Fund, that makes it much harder for the EU to meet its ambitions to both support European regions to recover from the crisis and to reach its long-term objectives linked to fair transition and carbon neutrality.”

The CPMR, he said, has now called on Parliament to negotiate improvements to the deal.

He wants increases to the budget of the recovery plan allocated to programmes supporting the EU’s long-term ambition in terms of carbon neutrality, innovation and for a stronger global presence.

Former UK Europe Minister Denis MacShane told The Parliament Magazine, “The world is impressed that instead of leaving each country to fend for itself the EU has come together to forge a plan that helps all of Europe.”

“It does not satisfy everyone, but one can sense a real spirit of solidarity with even the more egotist of EU nations agreeing to a compromise.”

“Once again the EU has defied its gravediggers and risen to the occasion.”

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