The European Commission needs to clarify how it plans to fund new policy proposals for the EU's budget for 2021-2027, said the budget committee.
During a debate with budget commissioner Johannes Hahn on 22 January, members of the Parliament’s negotiating team for the EU's next long-term budget expressed concern that the Commission’s budget proposal for how the EU should spend its money the next seven years no longer adds up.
The Commission published a negotiation position with figures in May 2018. After a new Commission headed by Ursula von der Leyen took over 1 December 2019, new policy priorities were presented, such as the European Green Deal with a Just Transition Fund that needs investment financing.
Polish EPP member Jan Olbrycht, one of the Parliament’s negotiators dealing with the spending side, as well as José Manuel Fernandes (EPP Portugal), one of the negotiatiors responsible for own resources, pressed the commissioner on the discrepancies.
Fernandes said: “With the European Green Deal and the commitments made by the new Commission, you have to ensure that there is an update, at least a technical update, to revise the figures regarding new actions and new priorities. As we have always said ‘new priorities need new additional money’."
Portuguese S&D member Margarida Marques, who is also a negotiator responsible for the spending side, added that the Commission needs to make clear whether it now has two different documents on the negotiation table.
Without agreeing to change the Commission’s long-term budget proposal, Hahn admitted that the €7.5 billion proposed for the Just Transition Fund “comes on top” and should be considered as “fresh money”.
German Greens/EFA member Rasmus Andresen, another member of the Parliament’s negotiation team, said: “We are going to have to find a way to think of the [long-term budget] and the European Green Deal as a single package and further adaptation is necessary.”
Like the Commission, the Parliament has also had its proposal for the EU's long-term budget ready for a long time. MEPs want a post-2020 investment budget that can deliver on the EU’s political commitments and ambitions for the future, for example by ensuring sufficient funding for research and the fight against climate change, as well as ensure the continuity of the EU’s main policies, such as the common agriculture policy and support for poorer regions.
The proposal includes a reform of the revenue side so that the EU has more own income resources, such as a new corporate tax scheme (including taxation of large companies in the digital sector), revenues from the Emissions Trading System and a levy on plastics. The aim is to pool resources at EU level to deliver on people's expectations and improve their lives.
French Renew Europe member Valérie Hayer, the negotiator responsible for own resources, asked Hahn whether the Parliament’s own resources proposals are making progress in talks with the Council, which still hasn’t made its priorities for the long-term budget clear. Hahn confirmed that things were moving on a plastics waste tax and the Emissions Trading System.
According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, nearly 60% of respondents from all EU member states think their country has benefited from EU membership and want the Parliament to play a bigger role. They want the EU to work together on cross-border issues such as climate change and the fight against terrorism.
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