Illustration of the European Parliament building in Strasbourg with flags of European states - ISOPIX / SIPA
The European Parliament deplored the "cuts" planned in the long-term budget agreement of the European Union (EU) found by the 27 during a marathon summit, and threatened not to approve it if it does not. was not "improved" in negotiations with the Council.
MEPs will have to vote by the end of the year on the 2021-2027 budget, on which the recovery plan is backed. The approval of the European hemicycle is necessary for the entry into force of the "multiannual financial framework" but not for the recovery fund of 750 billion euros. In a text supported by most political groups, and adopted by 465 votes in favor (150 against and 67 abstentions), the European Parliament “contests” this budget, endowed with 1.074 billion, “in its current form”.
"Ready to refuse to give his approval"
He "will not endorse a fait accompli and is ready to refuse to give his approval (...) until a satisfactory agreement is found", he warns, saying he is ready "to immediately engage in constructive negotiations with the Council. with a view to improving the proposal ”.
In the morning, the President of the European Council Charles Michel, conductor of the summit, congratulated parliamentarians on the fact that the compromise sends a signal of “confidence and solidity”.
The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen estimated that the agreement, intended to revive the economy in the face of the historic recession due to the coronavirus, made it possible to see the "light at the end of the tunnel". By adding the recovery plan and the multiannual budget, the EU has an "unprecedented financial strike force" of 1,800 billion euros, she stressed.
A "shadow" on the board
However, she deplored a "shadow" on the board: a "very thin" EU budget, "a pill that is difficult to swallow". "I know that this assembly feels the same thing", continued the German, who had proposed a budget of 1.100 billion. Parliament advocated 1,300 billion euros.
The still difficult long-term EU budget talks this time around are complicated by the departure of the UK, which left a hole of around 70 billion in the next budget.
MEPs are calling for increases in the areas of climate, digital technology, health and research, youth (Erasmus), culture, infrastructure, border management and the European Defense Fund in particular. They warn about “the risk of compromising the commitments and priorities” of the EU such as the Green Deal and the digital strategy.
Parliament also warns that it "will not approve" the budget without an agreement on a reform of the EU's sources of revenue. He believes that the tax on non-recycled plastics will not be enough to help repay the loan taken to finance the stimulus plan, and calls for a “legally binding timetable” on the introduction of new resources, which include revenue from the carbon and a digital tax.
On the question of the rule of law, which gave rise to a contested compromise, Parliament "deeply regrets that the European Council has considerably weakened" the link between the payment of European funds to a country and respect for democratic values by this last. MEPs still criticize the maintenance or even the increase of "rebates", rebates granted to five countries on their contributions to the budget.
During the previous multiannual budget (2014-2020), the first for which Parliament's approval was required, the latter had already contested the Council's proposal, before finally giving its agreement. The European Parliament has the right to accept or reject the budget, not to amend it. And the stimulus fund can come into effect even if the budget is not approved, a parliamentary source said.
However, it is unlikely that Parliament "takes the risk" of stopping this budget "at a time when it is necessary to move quickly" in the face of the crisis, notes Marta Pilati, expert from the European Policy Center (EPC). The Parliament could obtain "some increases here and there but nothing major", according to the expert, considering the resistance of the countries in particular known as "frugal" to any increase in their contribution.
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Coronavirus: Agreement on the European Union's recovery plan
- European Parliament
- Recovery plan