European Parliament Press Kit for the Special European Council of 1 February 2024
In this press kit, you will find a selection of the European Parliament’s press releases reflecting MEPs’ priorities for topics on the summit agenda.
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola will represent the European Parliament at the special summit, address the heads of state or government at 10.00, and hold a press conference after her speech.
When: Press conference at around 11.00 on 1 February
At their meeting in Brussels, heads of state or government will focus on the review of the EU’s long-term 2021-2027 budget with a view to reaching an agreement as well as on a €50 billion financial aid package for Ukraine.
EU long-term budget
On 3 October, MEPs set out their position on the reform of the EU’s long-term budget, emphasizing the urgency of future-proofing the EU budget. Following the Commission’s proposal for a mid-term revision of the EU’s long-term budget, MEPs in plenary endorsed an extra €10 billion for the years 2024-2027, in addition to the €65.8 billion proposed by the Commission.
In light of recent external challenges, especially the Russian war against Ukraine and growing migration issues, MEPs bolstered the relevant budgetary areas by €2 billion. They have allocated an additional €3 billion towards the new "Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform" (STEP) and earmarked €5 billion to enhance the EU's ability to respond to unforeseen crises.
As for debt payments resulting from the EU’s Recovery plan, MEPs demand that they be positioned above the EU’s budgetary caps to ensure EU programmes directly benefiting citizens are not compromised, especially given the potential volatility of these costs with rising interest rates.
On 17 October 2023, Parliament adopted its position on the establishment of a "Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP)" designed to boost critical strategic technologies through financial support, the 'Sovereignty Seal' and 'Sovereignty Portal'.
STEP aims to strengthen various EU programmes and funds and to channel up to €160 billion into new investments, alongside cohesion policy incentives and the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The platform will foster the growth of crucial technological value chains in the digital economy, net-zero industries, and biotechnologies, as well as addressing labour and skill shortages, and supporting innovation.
STEP should also act as a “testbed for a fully-fledged Sovereignty Fund in the next MFF period”. MEPs ask the Commission to conduct an interim evaluation by 2025, including a proposal to amend STEP or a new proposal for a fully-fledged European Sovereignty Fund.
MEPs to contact
Jan Olbrycht (EPP, PL), co-rapporteur MFF
Margarida Marques (S&D, PT), co-rapporteur MMF
Christian Ehler (EPP, DE), co-rapporteur STEP
José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, PT), co-rapporteur STEP
On 17 October, Parliament voted on a new Ukraine Facility with an overall capacity of €50 billion for 2024-2027 to support the country’s recovery, reconstruction and modernisation.
One of MEPs’ key demands is that assets from the Russian Federation or other entities or individuals directly connected with Russia’s war of aggression be used in Ukraine’s reconstruction. With their amendments, MEPs also made the Facility more democratically accountable, encouraging multiparty democracy and Ukraine’s alignment with EU accession requirements.
The Ukraine Facility is part of the ongoing revision of the EU’s long-term budget, for which adjustments are needed, as it has been severely depleted following the multiple crises since 2021. MEPs insist that the Facility, along with the entire budgetary revision, should be agreed as soon as possible, as otherwise there will be no provisions for assistance to Ukraine from 2024. The package should also be integrated into 2024’s annual budget, to be negotiated in November.
MEPs to contact
Michael Gahler (EPP, DE), co-rapporteur for the Committee on Foreign Affairs
Eider Gardiazabal Rubial (S&D, ES), co-rapporteur for the Committee on Budgets
In a resolution adopted on 18 January, MEPs regret the Council’s failure to apply the Article 7 (1) procedure (following Parliament’s activation of the mechanism in 2018). Parliament calls on the European Council to determine whether Hungary has committed “serious and persistent breaches of EU values” under the more direct procedure of Article 7(2).
MEPs also condemn the actions of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who last December blocked the essential decision to revise the EU’s long-term budget, including the Ukraine aid package, “in full disrespect and violation of the EU’s strategic interests and in violation of the principle of sincere cooperation”. The EU must not give in to blackmail, they highlight.
Parliament regrets the Commission’s decision to release up to €10.2 billion of previously frozen funds, despite Hungary not implementing the demanded reforms for judicial independence and the Commission recently prolonging the application of Conditionality Regulation measures. Parliament will look into whether legal action should be pursued to overturn the decision to partially unfreeze funds, and notes that it can use an array of legal and political measures if the Commission is in breach of its responsibilities as the guardian of the Treaties and to protect the EU’s financial interests.
In light of these issues, Parliament questions if the Hungarian Government will be able to fulfil its duties in the second half of 2024. MEPs ask the Council to find proper solutions to mitigate these risks, and call for reforms to the Council’s decision-making process, to end the abuse of the right of veto and blackmail.
MEPs to contact
Juan Fernando LÓPEZ AGUILAR (S&D, ES), Chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
Monika HOHLMEIER (EPP, DE), Chair of Committee on Budgetary Control
Gwendoline DELBOS-CORFIELD (Greens, FR), standing rapporteur on Hungary