EU budget should cover the impact of Covid-19 and protect funding for EU programmes

    European Union flags
    FILE PHOTO: European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, February 19, 2020. Picture taken February 19, 2020 REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

    I voted in favour of a European Parliament Report on the setting up of a Multiannual Financial Framework contingency plan. However, I insisted that this should serve only as a fall-back position in case an agreement cannot be reached on time.

    The report urges the European Commission to present a legislative proposal on the setting up of a contingency plan to create a safety net to protect the beneficiaries of EU programmes by ensuring continuity of funding.

    This would also respond to the social and economic consequences of the COVID 19 pandemic in the event that the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework could not be agreed in time to enter into force on 1 January 2021.

    In an explanation of vote, I expressed agreement with the need to provide a safety net for the beneficiaries of EU programmes because, at this moment, we cannot afford any added degree of financial uncertainty. However, I expressed a reservation pointing out that the contingency plan should not be considered as an alternative solution.

    A Committee amendment proposed by myself states that the overarching priority must remain that of a swift and timely agreement for a new Multiannual Financial Framework covering the upcoming seven-year period.

    This should remain in a position to support both the already established long-term priorities, as well as the newly expected challenges arising from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    It is natural that such a plan should include a tangible answer to the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic with targeted reinforcements and revisions of budgetary rules.

    The Multiannual Financial Framework contingency plan should be tabled by 15 June 2020 at the latest to ensure enough time for negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council. The Parliament has the final say and must approve the Multiannual Financial Framework before it can come into force.