Today, Commission president Ursula von der Leyen presented to the plenary of the European Parliament three proposals for a Recovery Plan, a Multiannual EU Budget and an updated Commission Working Programme. Following the plenary debate, the leader of the Socialists and Democrats, Iratxe García Pérez, said:
“This proposal is good because it includes the necessary new instruments to face the post-COVID-19 crisis to re-activate our economy and be better prepared for any future crisis. However, it remains to be decided how to use these instruments and how to maximise their leverage. So we will be demanding in our negotiations with the EU Council.
“The mutualisation of the debt through bond emissions, the higher ceiling for own resources and steps towards a Health Union, which are among other proposed measures, would have been unthinkable only a few months ago. The Recovery Plan also proposes a good balance between grants and loans. This shows that the Commission has understood that these are historical times, and so has this Parliament and most governments in the EU Council.
“This is not like any other Multiannual EU budget. We are risking not only the sustainability of the internal market and the Eurozone, but also the survival of our political Union. We cannot afford to lose the trust of the citizens. This is why those in the Council who don’t believe in this Union, or those who want to give up on convergence, should let the others decide on the Multiannual Financial Framework by qualified majority rather than unanimity. The raising of own resources will be crucial to pay the big investments needed and to ease the pressure on member states’ direct contributions.
“We must keep convergence as our overall goal and ensure a level-playing field for all EU companies; we must also strengthen our strategic sectors, build up industrial resilience and make sure that our values and principles are respected all along the way. So the only conditionality should be the respect of the rule of law and fundamental rights.
“It is the time to invest in more social cohesion, and also in the economic, social and environmental sustainability. We must indeed think of future generations, and avoid leaving them a sick planet and a huge financial burden. Let’s take our responsibility today to shorten and soften the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 as much as possible.”