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Call for rapid agreement between Parliament, the member states and the Commission on the multiannual financial framework

Peter Altmaier (CDU), Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, had identified three ‘mega-challenges’ which, in his view, Europe had to tackle simultaneously, namely economic recovery after COVID-19, the digital revolution and the achievement of climate-neutrality by 2050. Speaking at the Interparliamentary Conference on Stability, Economic Coordination and Governance in the EU (IPC SECG) on Monday, 12 October 2020, Mr Altmaier said that it was therefore right to place strong emphasis on all three of those challenges now, at the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, not least because there was a common interest in the progress of economic development in all EU member states. What was needed now, he added, was the quickest possible agreement between the European Commission, the member states and the European Parliament on the multiannual financial framework.

Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission for An Economy that Works for People, said that he also saw the Next Generation EU recovery programme as an opportunity to ensure that all member states of the EU would emerge strengthened from the economic crisis. “We can invest in the resilience of our national economies as well as in a digital and green transition”, he said. The increased long-term EU budget and the recovery plan were, in his view, inextricably connected in a technical sense and represented the largest-ever rescue package as well as an unprecedented response to a crisis. The member states and the European Parliament now had to adopt the package. “We hope that will happen soon”, said the Vice-President.

Criticism of a lack of parliamentary involvement

There was evident concern among delegates about a delayed implementation of the agreement. There was also criticism of the fact that parliaments had not been involved from the outset in the process of developing the aid measures, the point being made that it was national parliaments which had to explain these measures to the public and which depended on public support. Parliamentarians, it was argued, should therefore have a right of prior scrutiny over the relevant obligations that governments were assuming.

Peter Altmaier, who has served for many years in Parliament himself, urged delegates not to condemn the approach out of hand. It had been very difficult, he said, to achieve consensus in the European Council on the recovery aid measures. The proposal for the 750-billion-euro Next Generation EU fund had been the sole responsibility of the Heads of State or Government. Although national government ministers had been on hand to provide advice, even they had no power to take any decisions on behalf of the member states. Accordingly, he could only encourage national parliaments to develop improvement proposals. His own department, said the German Economics Minister, would consider “whatever is possible”.

30% of the funds for combating climate change

As for the fight against climate change, 30% of the funds in the multiannual financial framework and the recovery plan were earmarked for that purpose, said European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis. That, he emphasised, was a very ambitious aim and went beyond the original Commission proposal, which had envisaged an allocation of about 25%. There was now a need to ensure that the member states actually achieved these goals. In pursuit of them, they were free to exceed the prescribed targets, said Mr Dombrovskis.

Peter Altmaier: no trend towards public ownership in the EU

In response to a question, Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier made it clear that there was no trend towards public ownership of economic assets in the EU. On the contrary, policymakers were determined to cooperate with the private sector. “In a social market economy, government and business are partners, particularly when it comes to innovation and strategic tasks”, he said.

Difficult to relax procurement rules

Mr Altmaier and Mr Dombrovskis also commented on the proposal that EU procurement rules be temporarily relaxed to facilitate the disbursement of funds for purposes such as the energy renovation of buildings. The Commission Vice-President agreed that flexibility in state-aid rules was important, adding that the present rules already gave member states an unprecedented degree of latitude to support businesses. The escape clause in the Maastricht criteria, he said, also ensured that no quantitative limit was currently set for budget deficits, which provided flexibility to help businesses and safeguard jobs. The Vice-President, however, stopped short of responding specifically to the proposal for a relaxation of the procurement rules. Mr Altmaier was more specific on that point, stating that success had been achieved in adopting some relaxations of the procurement rules in Brussels. Nevertheless, he said, it remained a very challenging issue, as there was no consensus among the member states on this matter. (hau/13 October 2020)

The report on the first and second sessions of the interparliamentary video conference on Stability, Economic Coordination and Governance in the European Union (IPC SECG) can be read here.

Films of the IPC SECG on 12 October 2020



Here you can get a brief insight into the topics of the video conference for the Interparliamentary Conference on Stability, Economic Coordination and Governance in the European Union on 12 October 2020.

More information can be found here.

  • Type of media Video
  • Format MP4

Films of the IPC SECG




André Berghegger at the IPC SECG


Reinhold Hilbers at the IPC SECG

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