I was genuinely shocked when I learned that after the encouraging news we heard on 10 November, when the negotiating teams of the European Parliament and the Council reached agreement on the final details of the next Multiannual Financial Framework and the recovery fund, two Member States - later joined by a third - made the blunt decision to hold all of Europe hostage.
Neither did the video-call between European leaders on 19 November bring a way out of the deadlock.
The "Next Generation EU" package, together with the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), amounting to a total of €1.85 trillion, are urgently needed to enable a quick and effective recovery in all countries, and for all our citizens. If there is no agreement on the budget and the recovery fund soon, then we will clearly be faced with one of the biggest institutional and political crises of the EU. Far from being a purely political and institutional crisis, it will also deepen the economic and social crisis we are already in.
I reacted immedidately to the blockage in the Council with in a press statement, issued together with my esteemed colleagues Aurel Laurențiu Plosceanu, SOC President, and Cristian Pîrvulescu, President of the EESC´s Group on Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law.
Most shocking is that two governments are blocking the recovery fund in order to prevent tying the EU budget to respect for the rule of law. Human rights and rule of law are intrinsic to democratic societies. There should be no opposition to them, those values are enshrined in Article 2 of the EU Treaty. Such principles are not negotiable!
Let me finish on a positive note: in its long history the EU has proved to be a "deal-making machine", even on politically controversial and complex issues. I sincerely hope that in the end, we will also get out of this impasse. I do not want to imagine anything else at this point.
Some political and economic analysts have come up with the idea to move forward with the recovery fund in an enhanced cooperation procedure, and decouple it from the MFF, if an agreement between all Member States is not possible. They claim that the Treaty provides this possibility. While I think that this could be considered as a last resort option, I am firmly convinced that a deal between all 27, and one that respects the rule of law, must be the aim.
Time is pressing. I therefore urge the Member States, and in particular those that are currently blocking the deal, not to deprive European citizens any longer of the much-needed recovery money.