Sassoli warned that clarity on own resources is a must
EU leaders are deeply divided on the huge recovery packageEuropost , Brussels
The European Council meeting dedicated to the huge recovery package that should help European economies to upsurge from the coronavirus shock, was kicked off as a videoconference on Friday morning. It is clear from the outset that no final outcome can be expected from this sitting, but the hopes are that the divisions will turn less severe.
The position of ‘frugal’ quartet – the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Austria, seems unyielding. The apple of discord is the new €750bn Next Generation EU instrument, proposed by the Commission on 27 May in one basket along with the reviewed long-term EU budget for 2021-2027, and namely the sources of the funding and the ways it will be distributed to the most hardly hit EU states– as loans or grants.
“Our meeting on Friday should be a crucial stepping stone towards an agreement at a subsequent physical meeting”, wrote in his invitation latter to EU heads of state or government Charles Michel, President of the European Council.
The first reflection from the meeting came from the EP President David Sassoli who took part at the first part of the EUCO meeting. He told the EU leaders that the Next Generation EU is the essential basis for negotiations. He also urged them that they need to act “urgently and courageously”, as EU citizens, businesses and economies need an immediate response. He also warned that without clarity on the EU own resources there will not be an agreement by the lawmakers.
The EP President thanked the Commission for putting forward an ambitious proposal, but also said the EP opinion is that “it only scratches the surface of what needs to be done”. We will accept no retreat from this initial position, which we should take as our starting point and improve upon, to ensure that the critical decisions we take now benefit everyone, he stressed noting that nobody should be left behind.
Sassoli recalled that Parliament is keen to stress that any common debt issued must be repaid fairly, without burdening future generations. “We can achieve this with a drive for work and social wellbeing. In that regard, let us not forget that providing support solely in the form of loans would have an asymmetric impact on the indebtedness of individual Member States and would be more costly for the Union as a whole.
” We have an opportunity now to refashion Europe and make it fairer, greener, and forward looking. To this end, we should seize our chance to introduce a basket of new own resources. As our legacy to future generations, we want to settle the revenue issue once and for all, with solutions that will make the EU strong, more self-sufficient, and its finances sustainable. The overwhelming majority of Parliament believes that any overarching agreement on the Multiannual Financial Framework must meet these conditions”, he pointed out.
“I am deeply concerned about the impact that the crisis is having on people’s lives. I have received – as I am sure you all have – pleas for help from many charities working with our nations’ most vulnerable people. We must listen to these voices and reassure them that we will never waver in our support for those in need."
As one arm of the budgetary authority and co-legislator, Parliament has a duty to citizens that it has every intention of fulfilling. In particular, we need to ensure we have a say in decisions on the implementation of the Recovery Plan and on how money is raised, allocated and spent, EP President said.
He also explained that the recovery we have set out depends to a large extent on €500bn in external resources, guaranteed by the budget. It would be unthinkable for these resources to evade Parliament’s democratic scrutiny. This brings me to the core of my message: we need a common approach, with the broadest possible consensus, that combines urgent action with a forward-looking vision to build a stronger and more resilient Europe that serves everyone's interests, he stated. “Now is not the time to water down our ambitions. We need to show our citizens the value of Europe and our ability to come up with solutions that matter in their lives.”