"I support the Commission's proposal, but the parliamentarians and Social Democratic commissioners think of money in the rain." Word of Manfred Weber, powerful leader of the European People's Party
The umpteenth warning on the use of European aid by Manfred Weber, the powerful group leader of the strongest political assembly of the European Parliament (the conservative European People's Party), comes on the opening day of the General States in Italy, but this coincidence, this time, it's really random. The starting point is given by the approach of the European Council by videoconference, which on June 19 will discuss the Commission's proposal on the Fund for recovery and the EU budget. On the plate, the 500 billion euro non-refundable and the 250 billion loan with which the European Union intends to help its members to start economically after the pandemic.
Weber's observations, entrusted in the now usual format of the collective interview to various European newspapers (for Germany this time the Süddeutsche Zeitung ), are however a clear message, yet another, to those in Italy who take it for granted that the game already closed: both as regards the overall volume of aid and the conditionalities that could accompany it. More than observations are posts, placed by the man who despite having failed to become President of the Commission, today occupies a decisive position, as is the management of the strongest group in the European Parliament.
IMMEDIATELY ESTABLISH THE RETURNS OF NEW DEBTS
Greater debts are inevitable, Weber says, "as a Christian Democrat I don't love them, but at the moment there is no alternative". But the timing of their repayment must be fixed immediately: “We need a serious plan for repaying the debts. Now, not to the Greek calends. " Now for Weber (and for the EPP ) it means "within the period of validity of the next European budget, therefore at most in 2026 or 2027". There is a justification that recalls, more explicitly, what Ursula von der Leyen has been saying for some time and she repeated in her opening video-speech of the Roman General States: the program was called Next Generation, because post-pandemic reconstruction it must constitute a pact between generations, not an opportunity to pass on today's debt burdens to the younger one. So Weber, who as a party exponent will not make his voice heard at Villa Doria Pamphilj, specifies: we must fix the beginning of the refunds before the coverage period of the next budget ends, because “we must not discharge the debts to the next generation . It would be unfair, we must think of solidarity in an intergenerational way ". And then he adds: "And let's be honest, a real restitution can only take place if the EU obtains a new source of income".
PIANO VON DER LEYEN IMPORTANT SIGNAL
Weber knows that many of the opponents of the Commission's plan come from the ranks of his party. Among the most hostile states, the so-called "frugal countries", there are many governments led by parties belonging to the EPP family. It is therefore the group leader that more than others must be able to find a balance between the demands of the Mediterranean countries and the resistance of the Nordic ones (plus Austria). The Commission's proposal is reasonable and effective, Weber says, because nobody can predict today whether there will be a second pandemic wave and how dramatic the economic crisis will eventually be. "Doing nothing is not an option", adds the Bavarian politician, also because "Europe's role in the world is at stake". China has resumed production activities, power is once again redistributed on our planet "and I would not have to find in two years that Chinese companies were the big winners of the crisis and the European ones were the big losers". The von der Leyen plan "is an important signal, Europe is back, solidarity is back", precisely that solidarity between the Member States that was missing at the time of the outbreak.
MONEY SHOULD NOT BE SPENT FOR ERRORS OF THE PAST
But more important than the amount of the plan is to understand how that money will be spent: “Money must not be squandered on past mistakes, but must be invested for the future of Europeans, for common projects and not to cover the holes in national budgets ". On this point, Weber suggests that the debate is still open, even within the European parties and that the EPP will not discount those who imagine loose conditions: "I support the Commission's proposal but the parliamentarians and the Social Democratic commissioners think of money . Instead solidarity goes hand in hand with individual responsibility. You can only ask your neighbor for help if you are ready to take charge of your own destiny. " The battle will be tough, between governments in the European Council and also in parliament.
AID ONLY IN TRANCHE AND PUNCTUAL CHECKS
Huge sums are at stake, Weber continues, "everything can only work if there is democratic control". The mechanism to be adopted is rigid: the aid must be paid only in tranches and its effectiveness must be checked promptly. The European Parliament's control power over the budget must also be strengthened in order to be able to better combat corruption and waste: "Only in this way can we justify the expenses towards taxpayers". With an eye to those countries where justice and media reforms make us fear authoritarian drifts, such as Poland and Hungary, Weber is equally categorical: “Solidarity is also based on values, Europe is not an ATM but a union of values".
Weber's position is not new. Already a few weeks ago, the EPP group leader had given a collective interview claiming that on the use of the aid from the Recovery Fund by the individual States a control by European and national bodies was necessary. And he added: “I say it clearly, it doesn't have to happen that countries like Italy or Spain use the billions of the reconstruction fund to plug budget holes or to pay pensions. It takes strict control over whether the money is spent properly. For this it is necessary to clearly define the European projects and strengthen the control and surveillance structures ".
This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/mondo/tutti-i-paletti-di-weber-ppe-sui-prestiti-ue-anti-crisi-agli-stati/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tutti-i-paletti-di-weber-ppe-sui-prestiti-ue-anti-crisi-agli-stati on Sat, 13 Jun 2020 14:38:46 +0000.