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 Full text 
Wednesday, 27 May 2020 - Brussels Provisional edition

EU Recovery package (debate)

  Manfred Weber, on behalf of the PPE Group. – Mr President, Madam President, dear colleagues, solidarity is back. European solidarity is back. The spirit of Robert Schuman is back.

European flags burned a few weeks ago on the streets in Italy, for example. Millions of people inside of the European Union are still concerned, even afraid, about the future, about their jobs, about their families. And Europe is giving today a strong answer: you are not alone. We together will pick up the challenge and give a good answer with a fundament of solidarity. We open even a new chapter for the European Union.

Some call it a Hamilton moment – the current situation. Frankly speaking, as an EPP politician, I don’t like it, because I don’t want to see Europe based on making debts, on borrowing money – that is not my dream about Europe. But having the situation in mind, the economic crisis in mind, in the middle of the biggest economic crisis since the Second World War, we see no alternative but to invest now, to give our economy a new boost.

And the key question for us is not, first of all, how massive the investment must be - how much money do we spend? That is not the first question for us. The first question is: what is it for? And one of our principles is (and that is guaranteed now) with the proposal: we guarantee that we are not having fresh money for the old problems of the continent. We have to guarantee that we use fresh money for the new ideas for the fresh future for this continent.

Another element, which was crucial for us in the debates and the preparatory process was the democratic procedures, and I thank the Commission President for the clear statement.

Now we have to go to the Council and also clarify with the Council that the principle that no money can be spent at European level without the approval of the European Parliament is also guaranteed from the Council side.

The proposal is now on the table and we have still to argue, to convince. 27 Member States’ parliaments are needed to support this general idea, and it’s funny to see that in my camp, in the EPP, we have one government, we have two socialist governments, we have one liberal government – the Netherlands – and even the Greens are part of the problem this time, because in all three of their governings – so it’s really good to see that all of us have the same challenge now to convince the others to support the general idea that is still in front of us. And to the frugal four, let me be clear with three main arguments.

First of all, our companies, or your companies, cannot be successful without a successful single market, so it’s in your interest to make the whole European Union successful. The second argument is: we see a redistribution of the global economic power going on, and I don’t want to see that China is the big winner and that Europe is the big loser. And the third argument is that in 2008, 2009 and 2010, we had already faced the phenomenon of a lost generation, and Europe cannot accept another lost generation in this crisis. That is why I think we have good arguments for convincing some.

For us, solidarity goes always hand-in-hand with responsibility. That is always two sides of the same coin for us in the EPP. And having this in mind, I tell you that when we go to the markets now, to borrow money, we have to be clear to have a full and strong and serious idea – an honest idea – about how to pay it back. And to say that in the next MFF, having the debates in March in mind, when the Council tried already to find a common understanding about the MFF of today, I don’t believe that this will be so easy. That’s why, as EPP – let’s be honest, let’s be clear. And that means we need own resources for paying back the debt we have now installed. The big winners of the crisis are the digital giants, and that’s why I think it’s fair to ask the digital giants to pay part of the debt we are creating now.

And another part of this solidarity, responsibility, is for us all the national perspective. You can call it semester. You can call it the need of internal reforms. I think it is simply fair, if you ask your neighbour to help you, to practise solidarity. It’s simply fair to do your homework, to be better prepared for the future, and in a globalised world, we need still reforms.

There are thousands of other principles which are important: rule of law; a key issue the EPP supports is the grant-loan debate: I think we have now a good compromise on the table. The health programme is upgraded – a big signal, an important signal, in today’s Corona time. And the MFF – there we will still have further discussions, and it is about agriculture and cohesion.

So the plan goes in a good direction. It’s an important moment for the future of the European Union, and the EPP will generally support the ideas from the Commission.


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