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Parliament chief says EU won't approve deep budget cuts

Alerts EU member states: social safety nets stay
EPA-EFE/PATRICK SEEGER
European Parliament President David Sassoli during the debate on the Preparation of the Extraordinary European Council Meeting on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, 12 February 2020. The extraordinary meeting will take place on 20 February 2020.

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STRASBOURG, France – European Parliament President David Sassoli warned the 27 national governments of the EU member states that MEPs would not support any agreement that cuts key programmes that Europeans rely on.
“The new long-term EU budget is the most important issue at the start of this legislature,” Sassoli said in Strasbourg on February 12, following a debate in the European Parliament on the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027.
He explained that the European Parliament supports an ambitious MFF because it is needed to finance the ambitious proposals that the European Commission has put forward. “These proposals will boost growth and help tackle inequality in Europe. National governments support these aims, but they are currently not giving the EU the necessary means to achieve them,” Sassoli said, adding “We want to reach an agreement with the Council, however, if they refuse to move and accept Parliament’s positions then we will go all the way and reject the new long-term EU budget. These are not just abstract figures but have real consequences for the lives of all Europeans. How can we even think of cuts to such successful programmes as Erasmus+ or to measures designed to protect our borders?”
“Becoming the first climate-neutral continent requires unprecedented changes to our economies and our societies. We have to ensure that workers and those most affected by these changes are not forgotten. We cannot allow fighting climate change to lead to greater inequality. The current proposals for the Just Transition Fund are inadequate and must be strengthened if Parliament is to back an agreement,” Sassoli said, stressing that a well-funded EU budget is in the interest of all Europeans and all member states. “We want to see genuine own resources to put the EU budget on a sustainable footing, rather than relying on funding solely from national governments,” he said.
Asked by New Europe at a press conference following the debate on MFF whether the EU Green Deal will be financed by existing programmes as suggested by a budget negotiator instead of new funds from the MFF, Sassoli said to meet new objectives would need new financing efforts from Member States.
“Sometimes there is a bit of magic surrounding budgets. But actually, what we are facing is not only the need for old programmes to contribute to the Green Deal. But, as you know, if the budgetary amount is an amount that’s enough to keep funding the old budgets, how then are we going to fund the new ones? Because, actually, the Council’s proposal taking away the British amount is exactly the same as last time. So, that would only leave us with the only possibility of making cuts. Obviously, we have to align policies to the Green Deal, the agricultural policy, cohesion, development, infrastructure, sustainability, railways, transport, all of that would have to be brought to line with the needs to fight climate change. But what about the new programmes? How would we be able to support those?” Sassoli said.
The European Parliament President said the Just Transition Fund is not an option as it is meant to help countries, territories, to adjust the new realities without losing jobs. “I mean, it would be all too lovely to be able to have all these objectives without resources. Probably is a world that we all dream of. But we know we have to make efforts, financing efforts as well. Who are the efforts for? That’s the real question,” Sassoli said.
He stressed that these financial efforts the EU Member States have to make are especially for the benefit of the citizens from those countries. “I think that is the balance and pragmatic position that the Parliament has then reiterated today at the plenary with the backing of a broad majority,” he said, reiterating, “The Council should come up with its own proposal but no one should imagine that the Council’s proposal is enough by itself because it has to have the oversight and consent of the Parliament.”
 

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Co-founder / Director of Energy & Climate Policy and Security at NE Global Media

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