European Parliament (EP) President David Sassoli warned European Union (EU) leaders at the beginning of a summit here on Friday that the decisions they are due to make over the next two days will be crucial in rebuilding the union and preparing it for the decades to come.
Addressing the European Council, Sassoli said:
“The pandemic gives us new responsibilities and duties, the responsibility to decide and the duty to do so in the interests of all, not just the few.”
EU leaders are meeting physically in Brussels for the first time since March in a bid to find an agreement on the bloc’s next long-term budget, which would also include measures to help Europe recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
the European Parliament supports the proposal put forward by the European Commission, which plans to borrow up to 750 billion euros on the financial markets as part of a new recovery tool.
“This is an essential device for Europe at this moment,” said Sassoli. The European Parliament supports the approach, the amount, and the distribution indicated between grants and loans, he added.
Meanwhile, Sassoli expressed disappointment with European Council President Charles Michel’s latest multiannual financial framework proposal,
which reduced the level from 1.1 trillion euros to 1.074 trillion. “If we are to bring about a recovery, we need steady, long-term funding. This is a prerequisite for Parliament’s consent,” warned Sassoli.
The EP president said the time has come to eliminate the rebates that some EU member states receive, which are “unfair and difficult to justify.” This goes against the proposal by Michel who said last week that countries with long-held rebates on their European contributions would continue to get them. These countries are Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Sweden.
Sassoli also spoke about the need to tackle inequalities across Europe: “In the past years, we have been told that what benefits the rich would also benefit the poor. For too many decades, those who are born poor remain poor.”
“If we do not live up to our responsibilities and respond with courage and a sense of justice for these people, then we will not only face major problems for the structure of Europe, but will see the resilience of our democratic institutions threatened,” he said.