The EU’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic is Parliament’s priority for the EU's budget for next year. Find out more in our interview with MEP Karlo Ressler.
On 24 November 2021, MEPs approved the EU's budget for 2022, signing it into law. In this interview, which took place before the negotiations with the Council, Croatian EPP member Ressler, who was responsible for guiding the legislation through Parliament, explained the Parliament’s priorities.
What are the Parliament’s priorities for the EU's 2022 budget?
The number one priority is to support the recovery from the Covid-19 crisis and also, and this is really connected, to lay the foundation for a more resilient Union. We want to invest in a vibrant economy to help small and medium-sized companies and in employment, especially for young people. The second priority would be to continue with the digital and green transformation. Thirdly, we want to develop a strong, healthy union.
We also want to focus specifically on the younger generation and our children. Here Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps are maybe the two most visible examples, but in the end most of our programmes are directly or indirectly also focusing on young people.
It’s important to really be strong and unified here in the Parliament, because in that way, we can get better results in the negotiations with the Council.
How do you expect the budget to speed up the recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic?
After the crisis, we have to be ambitious. We have to invest. That’s the basic idea. In practical terms that means investing more and assisting those who have been affected the most. In this context, we believe in effectively supporting SMEs all over Europe. This is something fairly tangible.
How can the budget help, for example, to address the situation in Afghanistan that suddenly developed?
We attempt to address it by investing more in humanitarian aid. That was the main purpose of one of the biggest amendments by the European Parliament. I think that all the institutions agree that these are unforeseen developments, that the world is really changing fast, and that we cannot ignore all those changes. We will have to work closely with the Commission and the Council to try to find a solution. We are still waiting for a real concrete proposal by the Commission, but we attempt to address it primarily through a special line on humanitarian aid for Afghan people and for the neighboring countries.
This year has witnessed unforeseen challenges like the current energy price hike, Afghanistan and environmental disasters. Is it becoming trickier to decide on an annual EU budget as a lot of money to deal with unexpected situations has to be put aside?
I would say yes. It’s difficult for the EU when we have a pandemic and it’s the biggest crisis of our generation. It has made us understand that we have to be more resilient. We have to be prepared to act swiftly and it’s impossible to act swiftly without adequate financing.
At the same time, we hope that we have created a budget that is tailor-made for all: that addresses the problems of all generations, regions and sectors. We know that the consequences of the pandemic have been asymmetrical and that’s why it has been important to translate our political priorities into real figures.