Wednesday

30th Sep 2020

Agenda

Recovery plans unveiled This WEEK

  • Commission preisdent Ursula von der Leyen will unveil the EU executive's proposal on Wednesday (Photo: European Parliament)

After weeks of speculation, arguments, counter-arguments, proposed (and disputed) numbers, this Wednesday (27 May) the EU Commission will unveil its recovery plans for both kickstarting the bloc's economy and a revised EU budget proposal.

Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will set out the proposal to journalists and MEPs on Wednesday. It needs the agreement of the 27-member state leaders and will form the basis for a difficult deal.

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The recovery plan and its shape could make or break the EU: provide a step towards further integration or nudge the bloc towards a more fragmented union.

Von der Leyen is expected to unveil a scheme that possibly includes issuing common debt, in order to fund some €500bn of grants to help member states hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The commission chief is stuck between southern member states who reject the 'loans-only' approach to help restart their economies, fearing their rising debt burden, and the so-called 'Frugal Four' - Austria, Denmark the Netherlands and Sweden - who reject the 'grants-only' idea.

Von der Leyen can rely on the backing of France and Germany, which last week presented a joint-lan for a €500bn temporary and targeted fund based on grants to countries and sectors most in need - while the 'Frugals' presented their own plans over the weekend for a loans-only fund with strict conditions.

Negotiations start this week, but there might enough elements in the discussion to help find a compromise - although the Dutch have already proven to be tough on their red lines back in February, in that round of budget talks.

Conditions attached to the fund, its exact size, technicalities in financing, the green financing in the EU long-term budget, and the rebates - compensations for budget contributions that the Frugals are counting on - could all come into play during negotiations.

MEPs at work

The commission will also unveil its revised program for this year, which will show what issues the EU executive will push back to prioritise tackling the Covid-19 crisis and its economic fallout.

Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic will explain that on Monday (25 May) to MEPs in the legal affairs committee.

MEPs in the civil liberties committee will also discuss on Monday the situation of rule of law in Poland and a draft report on the Article 7 sanctions procedure against the Warsaw government.

On Tuesday (26 May), MEPs in the constitutional affairs committee will talk about the parliament's role in the planned Conference on the Future of Europe that aims to reshape the EU.

On the same day, European Council president Charles Michel, von der Leyen,and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe will hold a video conference to the Covid-19 response and its economic implications.

On Tuesday, the EU affairs ministers will also hold a videoconference for a first exchange of views the commission's proposal on the recovery fund and the long-term EU budget.

And finally, on Friday (29 May), EU foreign ministers will hold a videoconference.

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EU rift deepens as Commission sticks to €1trn recovery

The EU Commission said it is still aiming for a recovery initiative above one trillion euros to kickstart the pandemic-hit EU economy - after a German-French proposal called for a commonly-financed €500bn plan.

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EU leaders failed to reach agreement on the EU's long-term budget, as richer states and poorer 'cohesion countries' locked horns. The impasse continues over how to fund the Brexit gap.

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Draft EU 'green recovery' plan amid clash over natural gas

The European Commission's recovery plan from the coronavirus pandemic gives priority to building renovation, renewables and hydrogen. However, eight member states have insisted that gas plays a crucial role in the transition from fossil fuels to renewables.

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