Today the group leaders and the president of the European Parliament held a special meeting in the presence of Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to discuss the review of the Commission Work Programme for 2020, and the revised MFF proposal. The group leaders asked about the amount and content of the Recovery Plan to face the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Commission’s working programme.
After the meeting, the leader of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, Iratxe García, said:
“On the revised 2020 Commission Work Programme, today I passed the message that COVID-19 can be no excuse to implement or delay the urgent policies that we had already agreed on, such as the Green Deal, the Social Pillar or gender mainstreaming. They have to be part of the global answer to the crisis. Likewise, democracy and the rule of law must be fully observed, along with citizens’ rights and privacy. Let’s not leave our values by the wayside.
“On the MFF and the Recovery Plan, the S&D Group is expecting an ambitious answer in terms of the size and conditions, and it should be based on solidarity and targeted to the countries most affected by this crisis.
“I also raised my concerns about the political challenge of keeping the convergence goal between EU countries and regions. Upward socio-economic convergence is the core objective of our Union and it is the duty of the Commission to ensure it is pursued.
“The Recovery Fund, which should be set up before the entry into force of the next MFF, should not be just an addition to each member states’ individual effort, but it should be used to correct imbalances and avoid an asymmetric response to the socio-economic crisis. So far, half of state-aid in the EU has been spent by Germany. Other countries don’t have the same capacity. If the EU does not come in to avoid new divergencies, we will be sacrificing convergence and the future of the EU project will be put at risk.
“We must finance the Recovery Fund with fresh money and by issuing common debt. It is not only about solidarity, otherwise it will simply not be sustainable for the Eurozone and for the EU as a whole because national debt will greatly increase in the member states, with all the potential systemic risks associated with it. That is why we need a common solution to ease that stress.
“The European project is at stake and citizens need to see that the EU lives up to the circumstances. Therefore, we expect from the European Commission an ambitious answer ahead of the next European Council which will take into account the European Parliament’s role and position.”