Recovery funds and the budget cannot be held hostage!

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Statement by Aurel Laurențiu Plosceanu, president of the EESC's Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship, Stefano Palmieri, president of the EESC's Section for Economic and Monetary Union and Economic and Social Cohesion and Cristian Pîrvulescu, president of the EESC Group on Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law.

18 November 2020

Recovery funds and the budget cannot be held hostage!

The COVID-19 health crisis has resulted in severe economic and social consequences for all Member States. In this delicate context, the EU has managed to put forward a courageous package to support European recovery post-COVID. At the same time, it has guaranteed a structural change in our European production system, through the double transition towards a digital and green economy financed by the next long-term budget and the recovery package.

This is why the EESC strongly supports the Commission's proposal for a massive recovery plan to address the consequences of the crisis. The "Next Generation EU" package, coupled with the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) – amounting to a proposed total of EUR 1.85 trillion – are urgently needed to enable a quick and effective recovery.

We are deeply concerned that two governments have expressed their intention to use their veto to prevent the budget being tied to respect for the rule of law. Human rights and the rule of law are intrinsic to democratic societies and cannot be disregarded. Making the budget contingent on respect for the rule of law should not be controversial, as those values are recognised in Article 2 of the Treaty, and are the values upon which the European Union is built. We should never forget that the European Union was intended as a bulwark against authoritarianism and totalitarianism, via a democratic Union that aims to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples (Art. 3 TEU). The principles set out in Article 2 TEU are not negotiable!

European businesses, workers and civil society need the means to weather the crisis and the EU recovery plan must be made operational as soon as possible, with time being of the essence. We cannot afford for the entire EU budget and the recovery fund to be used as a bargaining chip by a few governments. The recovery plan was issued on the principle of solidarity between all countries, and this solidarity should not now be called into question.  We call on all governments to act in a responsible manner for the benefit of the citizens in their own countries as well as for those throughout the EU. Using the financial hardship of EU citizens to extract political gains is not the way to achieve harmonious EU relations and we urge the dissenting governments to act responsibly and to reach an agreement as soon as possible.

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