On the 'negotiation box' EU Council President Charles Michel presented today, which the heads of state and government will discuss at next week's summit (17-18 July) focusing on the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework and the recovery package, Philippe Lamberts, President of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament, comments:
“Now is the time to hammer out a historic deal. Angela Merkel's U-turn on grants needs to be reflected in the recovery package and EU budget, in that the rule of law and climate protection are the main focal points.
"While we recognize the sheer difficulty of bringing the Heads of State and governments to a unanimous position, we do not believe that it is fair or even economically sensible to simply play one budget against the other by proposing to cut the EU multiannual budget while sticking to rebates which only aim at appeasing the so-called "frugal" Member States. We call on all members of the European Council to live up to their responsibilities if they want to deserve the title of 'leaders' that they so easily confer upon themselves.
"We do agree that the recovery fund cannot consist of a blank check to any Member State; the money will need to be spent according to strict criteria, serving the European general interest. However, the PMs of Austria, Denmark, Sweden and above all the Netherlands must realize that blocking a common recovery plan may ultimately lead to the end of the monetary union, which would have a dramatic impact on them, too. Having this plan is not just a matter of solidarity but is actually in their own best interest.
"In terms of criteria, allocating 30 percent towards climate investments is a positive start, but to tackle the climate crisis we need half of the spending to be invested in climate action projects. What the European Union now needs is a strong recovery fund and MFF, grants rather than loans and a strong stance on climate and the rule of law. The burden of austerity needs to be overcome once and for all.
"It is essential that the strong basis set out in the Commission's proposal on the recovery plan is maintained and an agreement is reached without further delay. In politics, just as in life, what you decide is important, but sometimes how and when you make a decision is even more crucial: Europeans need a clear signal of hope from their leaders; now is the moment to give it.”