Press statement by President von der Leyen on the MFF and the Recovery Instrument - EU monitor

EU monitor
Sunday, August 9, 2020

Press statement by President von der Leyen on the MFF and the Recovery Instrument

Source: European Commission (EC) i, published on Wednesday, May 27 2020.

Good afternoon,

The current crisis is our biggest collective challenge since the birth of the European Union.

It is firstly a health challenge.

But it has also created an unprecedented economic and social challenge.

It is not just the extent of the economic shock: it is its very diverse impact from one country to another and one sector to another that makes it difficult to get to grips with.

The pandemic is the cause of the crisis, but the extent of the crisis is linked to many factors, especially the structure and interdependence of our economies.

The countries most affected by the virus - like Italy, Spain and France, which are also impacted economically - are not the only ones whose economies have suffered.

Those dependent on tourism, those with weaker capital markets or those whose industry is highly dependent on European and international value chains have also been hit.

And finally, some countries with a more precarious labour market situation have fared worse throughout Europe.

And some sectors, such as transport, cars and textiles.

This asymmetric impact of the crisis is exacerbated by the different capacities of Member States to support their economies.

In short, if we fail to act decisively, we will see significant differences in the Member States' economic recovery, distortions in the single market and destabilising social inequalities.

The European Union cannot allow this to happen.

To generate growth and jobs throughout the EU, we need a functioning Single Market and a return to convergence between the Member States.

This is why a European approach is so important.

All this leads us to the Commission's proposal that I have just presented to the Members of the European Parliament.

This response is meant to deal with the present crisis while preparing the future.

A future that reinforces the EU as a whole and each and every Member State.

Indeed, the current crisis is also an opportunity.

You know the emphasis that my Commission has put on the Green and Digital transition.

These transitions are even more important for the future.

At the same time, we must ensure that the transition to a climate-neutral economy leaves nobody behind.

Next Generation EU will therefore multiply the funding for the Just Transition Fund.

And the crisis has also taught us the importance of strengthening resilience in all its dimensions: health, social, economic.

Achieving all of this can only be done by raising our game to a completely new level, by being bold and extremely focused at the same time.

The aim must be to invest together in our common good.

We will be bold by raising unprecedented amounts of funding at EU level.

We will be focused by channelling the funding to the new priorities that will shape the future.

To achieve this, we are setting up Next Generation EU - worth EUR 750 billion.

Together with the core MFF of EUR 1.1 trillion, this sums up to EUR 1.85 trillion in today's proposals.

We will use the bulk of this money to help Member States recover from the crisis and build up their long-term resilience capacity.

The focus will therefore be on investment and reform, embedded in the European Semester.

And the focus will clearly be on our priorities: the European Green Deal and digitalisation.

A special programme with cohesion funds will provide additional support, to cushion the direct impact of the crisis - of course, especially in the worst affected countries.

Similarly, we will help healthy businesses throughout Europe to get back on their feet after the crisis. Many lack the liquidity to do so at present. Not every firm can rely on a strong domestic market for its much-needed recapitalisation.

Another lesson from the crisis is that we must strengthen our main industrial value chains. Next Generation EU will give this project additional momentum.

The crisis has also taught us that we must improve our health systems throughout Europe. It is not just a matter of capacity, but of quality and resilience. A new programme should help us do so.

Everybody now understands how important it is for Europe to have top quality research institutions with outstanding scientists. This is why we want to top up HorizonEurope.

We must act internationally and together if we are to get to grips with this global crisis. We will therefore increase our support for our friends in the Western Balkans and our neighbours in Africa, as well for our partners in the rest of the world.

We need to be very resolute in our response to this crisis, because our citizens and businesses have acute and urgent needs.

But we must do it in such a way that we prepare the future.

This is why, thanks to the focus of Next Generation EU and together with the baseline MFF, 60 per cent of our investments will go to ‘modern policies' over the next seven years.

Moreover, in preparing the future we must also pay attention to the current difficult financial and budgetary situation of many Member States.

Therefore, the funding will be raised through loans, many of which will have very long term maturities, and will be paid back thanks to new own resources through the next European budgets.

These new own resources would be levied through the ETS (Emissions Trading System), through a new carbon border adjustment mechanism, on big companies that benefit most from the Single market, on single use plastics and through a digital tax based on the OECD work.

This would allow Member States to contribute to the next European budgets at the same level they currently do.

Allow me to stress that Next Generation EU will in any case be strictly time-limited and as extraordinary as the current crisis.

The proposal is on the table.

It stems from intense work by the Commission, and numerous contacts with my counterparts in the Member States and the other EU institutions.

We need to reach an agreement between the European Council and the European Parliament as soon as possible, to allow time for the necessary national ratifications.

Moreover, I hear the calls for action even before the end of this year.

I understand and support these calls.

This is why we are also proposing an immediate reinforcement of the current MFF and 2020 budget to top up cohesion spending, bring forward recapitalisation support and funding for external action, in particular for the Western Balkans.

I will work without rest with my colleagues in the European Council and the European Parliament

to come to an agreement as quickly as possible on all these proposals.

We are at a defining moment for the EU.

But I am confident.

The past weeks have shown that there is a growing awareness of the need to invest together in the European common good, and to do this by laying the foundations for the well-being of Europe's next generation.

Where there is a will, there is a way.

Thank you.