Post-Covid world will have to be different

At an extraordinary plenary session, lawmakers discuss the summit results with presidents Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen

Photo: EP Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel and David Sassoli.

During the extraordinary plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels on Thursday on the conclusions of the special EU summit Charles Michel, President of the European Council said that it is his conviction that the deal hammered on 21 July is pivotal moment in European history.

We acted fast and with urgency, he stressed noting that in less than two months, “we hammered out a deal of more than and €1.8tn and this response is massive compared to the size of the economy”. Europe's response is greater than that of the United States or China.

“A few days ago, we completely overturned the way our democratic societies were functioning. We had to restrain fundamental freedoms and our healthcare systems were greatly tested. And I'm quite sure that a post-Covid world will have to be different, “ Michel pointed out. He also stated that the conditionality between the financial issue and governance, the issue of rule of law ever have to play their part.

EC President Ursula von der Leyen told lawmakers that the pressure of the crisis “has opened doors that were closed for a long time”.

As sad as the occasion is, it is also a new opportunity for Europe, for our community, she underlined adding that ten years ago in the financial and euro crisis, we saved the Union and the euro from breaking apart. But the inner price was huge, von der Leyen asserted.

She described that the economies have developed in opposite directions and young people had to leave their homes in search of work and the future. These cracks can still be seen and felt today, she warned saying that “this time we're doing a lot of things differently and I think some things are better”.

Von der Leyen emphasized that Next Generation EU means much more than money and accented on a collaborative solution. Thanks to the recovery instrument, all member states are equally able to help in the crisis.

Commenting that the European Council's agreement provided the light at the end of the tunnel, she noted that “with light, also comes shadow”. And in this case, the shadow is in the form of a very lean long-term EU budget.

There are regrettable and painful decisions on many programmes, which have crucial European added value, she said naming Horizon, Health Programme, InvestEU. “Yes, all of these have been increased – but certainly not as much as we would like.”

The majority of lawmakers labelled the deal forged at the summit as “historic”, as for the first time, EU countries have agreed to issue €750bn of joint debt, but criticised the cuts made to the long-term budget.

We are not ready to swallow the MFF pill, EPP group leader Manfred Weber stressed, while S&D chief Iratxe Garcia was clear that they would not accept the cuts, “not at a time when we need to strengthen our strategic autonomy and reduce disparities between Member States”.

MEPs also put their finger on the question of reimbursing the debt that was not resolved and urged that the load must not fall on the citizens. They reiterated that a robust system of new own resources including a digital tax or levies on carbon for the repayment must be guaranteed, with a binding calendar.

During many interventions, it was stated that “the EU is not a cash machine for national budgets” and deplored “frugal” countries that do not want to pay the price for benefiting from the single market. MEPs insisted that no funds should go to governments which do not respect the rule of law and EU values.

 

 

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