Commission decision to shelve plans to punish Spain and Portugal welcomed
GUE/NGL MEPs have warmly welcomed the European Commission’s decision to shelve plans for suspending the European Structural and Investment Funds for Spain and Portugal for breach of EU budget rules.
This came in light of debates between the European Parliament’s Committees on Regional Development (REGI), on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) and the Commission over the past six weeks.
Speaking after the announcement, Younous Omarjee MEP – vice-chair and the group's coordinator on REGI – said:
“During the 3rd October debate, we told the Commission that any proposed suspension – even at 0% – would be unjust, absurd and dangerous, and that the Commission should in fact renounce any suspension for Spain and Portugal.”
“So this was something worth fighting for. This decision by the Commission is not only sensible but crucially, it safeguards the interests of the outermost regions of Spain and Portugal. Otherwise, it would have been an even greater catastrophe,” said Omarjee.
Portuguese MEP and GUE/NGL coordinator on the ECON committee Marisa Matias also welcomed the decision but lamented the amount of effort wasted in getting this far:
“An absurd amount of time has been lost during these talks. What we have witnessed is a process whose sole aim is to undermine and weaken Portugal and Spain even though many other member states failed to follow the same rules.”
“The European Parliament – and GUE/NGL in particular – fought hard against these threats and we have now shown that it is possible to block a decision that everyone thought was inevitable.”
“Everything is possible within the EU as long as there is a political will,” concluded Matias.
Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) comments on the end of the suspension process of Structural Funds to Portugal
As expected, the Commission announced the end of the process to suspend the structural funds to Portugal due to budgetary violations related to the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) and the Budgetary Treaty.
PCP MEPs in the European Parliament, who from the start have expressed opposition to the EU's Budgetary Treaty and the economic governance which are at the root of this process, welcome this conclusion while noting that Portugal has been the target of unacceptable blackmail to condition the government's economic policy and the 2017 state budget.
PCP MEPs in the European Parliament warn that the legislative framework remains intact, that is to say, the economic governance package as well as macroeconomic conditionalities continue to apply, as proven by the statements of the Commission in relation to the execution of the 2016 and 2017 budget. We note that the positive elements related to the execution of the 2016 budget as well as slight economic growth confirm the important role of demand and of family income as defended by the PCP and represent a serious warning to all those who continue to defend austerity.
In this vein, PCP MEPs in the European Parliament will continue to intervene in the defence of national interest, fighting for the release of Portugal from the constraints of the euro and for the renegotiation of debt, considering that they currently represent one of the biggest obstacles to the development of the country. As the indicators show, Portugal does not need more austerity. It needs to continue with the restitution of income and rights as well as more investment capable of revitalising production and to guarantee more economic growth, strengthening in this way the small and still insufficient advances made.