Parliament’s proposal to reinforce flagship programmes is worth 39 billion euros

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.

In a spirit of compromise, Parliament made a concrete and realistic proposal for an immediate increase of key programme envelopes in the long-term EU budget by €39bn.

Contradictory figures (up to an additional €90bn) have however been spread by the Council presidency in an attempt to undermine Parliament’s offer.

Johan van Overtveldt, Chairman of the Committee on Budgets reacts to the distorted information circulated by the Council presidency:

“This Wednesday morning we read in the press a misrepresentation of yesterday’s EP compromise offer. The EP has been fully transparent all along: in public resolutions, press statements and open letters. Our constructive inputs have either not been read, or are deliberately misrepresented.

39 billion euros for our flagship programmes

Let me set the record straight: Parliament’s compromise offer is 39 billion euros. 39 billion more to increase our flagship programmes: for delivering the Green Deal, supporting the digital transition, building up our common health capacities and our networks, supporting our youth and researchers, tackling together migration, security and external challenges, and defending our cultural creation and our values. It would only mark a minimal (2%) change to the 1.8 trillion July package, but it makes a huge difference for the citizens who benefit from our common policies – severely cut by the Council.

An overall Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) ceiling equal to 2014-2020

We also proposed a financing architecture with two key elements at its core: 13 billion euros would come from the space released by counting recovery debt and interest repayments over and above the ceilings (given that it is exceptional expenditure that should not compete with Union programmes); and a 9 billion net increase of the MFF ceilings. Let’s put figures in perspective: in real terms, the overall MFF ceiling for 7 years would be equal to the 2014-2020 period (1 083 billion euros).

This is a huge step from our initial position, made in a spirit of compromise in view of reaching an agreement. From the Council side, however, there is still no such sign of willingness of “going the extra mile”, as they proposed themselves in a recent letter. And just like a few weeks ago, an unnamed ‘diplomat’ inflates Parliament’s offer to portray us as an unrealistic and unreliable partner. Parliament-bashing is always a very attractive story to tell, but clearly not helping our cooperation in this delicate negotiation.

Recovery instrument should be launched and fully implemented

Our compromise offer is 39 billion euros. The rest is made up of pure flexibility mechanisms to address future needs in the uncertain environment we live in. The bulk of it is not additional money, but merely about making sure that, out of the agreed spending, not a single euro can be lost due to underexecution.

We are very concerned about how some, in the Council, come to the additional figure released in the press today. Could it be that they factor in a severe underimplementation of the Recovery instrument, that should not be tackled? We trust that Council will stay true to the Leaders’ promise of a 390 billion stimulus in grants. Support to the citizens and businesses is urgently needed, and the Council needs to greenlight the launch of the ratification process to ensure relief can quickly reach those most hit by the Covid-19 crisis. Parliament did its part on this short-term support, and will continue negotiating to improve the MFF to strengthen resilience on the longer-term.”

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