by N. Peter Kramer
After five days of intense discussions, the European Council, which brought together the Heads of State and Government of the 27 member states, reached an agreement on the next long-term EU budget (MFF 2021-2027) and on the recovery fund (Next Generation EU). The 1.82 trillion euro deal (MFF: 1.074 trillion and Next Generation EU: 750 billions) has been called by many a really Historical Deal!
But isn’t that cheered a bit to early? The Council has still to negotiate with the European Parliament, the co-legislator. And the first signals from that side are far from positive. The EP negotiating team let already know that it is negative when it comes to the MFF. ‘Parliament cannot accept the proposed record low ceilings as they mean renouncing to the EU’s long-term objectives and strategic autonomy’, the negotiators let know. And -of course- they want more money, for public health, research, digitalisation, youth and the fight against climate change. ‘Key programmes to reach these objectives have been considerably shrunk and lost most of their top ups under Next Generation EU’, the negotiators wrote.
Also the political groups in the EP do not allow themselves to be defied. ‘The Parliament will amend the EU budget’, says Iraxte Garcia, leader of the Socialists (S&D). ‘The proposal needs consistent improvements’, according to the Liberal (Renew Europe) leader Dacian Ciolos. The European Greens comment: ‘the deal watered down the idea of linking the EU budget to high rule of law standards’.
There is still a long and bumpy way to go. And the question is, shall the ‘gains’ of the so called five frugal member states last? Or will appear at the end of the battle with the EP, that all the Council efforts and long hours were for nothing?