GUE/NGL MEPs strongly criticised the EU’s funding priorities as wholly inadequate and out of touch with reality as Parliament prepares to issue an assessment and set of recommendations on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020 ahead of the Commission´s mid-term revision later this year.
The MFF is an expression of political priorities of the EU laying down the maximum annual amounts which the EU may spend in different political fields. The Parliament´s input to the Commission’s upcoming revision, prepared by the Budgets Committee (BUDG), demands additional money for the MFF.
In this increase, GUE/NGL MEPs pressed for EU programmes to help the poorest regions, to enhance cohesion and to reduce the inequality gap between rich and poor member states. They also called for better integration and territorial cohesion, support for a social Europe with quality, long-term and sustainable employment and a serious answer to the humanitarian crisis.
GUE/NGL MEP Younous Omarjee considered the proposals on the table shy and falling short of the radical rethink that is needed given the challenges facing the EU in this historic moment:
“Now is the time for real change and for radical breaks. The Parliament should send a strong political message for an end to austerity, an end to monitoring and punishments and an end to this false budget that reflects a lack of ambition of the European Council.”
“Instead we continue requesting small amounts of additional resources that are hardly enough to face the challenges ahead of us and do not match the expectations of European citizens or the reality that we are living,” said Omarjee.
GUE/NGL MEP Liadh Ni Riada highlighted the multiple crisis facing Europe and the Commission´s complacency about them:
“The economy is in dire straits and is not improving. Italy is in trouble, the number of refugees is increasing, we have an agricultural crisis, an unemployment crisis, particularly among our young people, and Brexit has created uncertainty in Europe. We haven´t heard anything from the Commission about this. Although there is reference in the report about the huge challenges we are facing and I am not hopeful that they will be dealt with.”
The Irish MEP reiterated the call for an end to austerity and need for the MFF to take a new direction where people, not markets, are at its core:
“We need to take the MFF on a new direction that will put people at the centre and create real investment in our communities and societies. We need to stop austerity that is only supporting banks and the wealthy. I am calling on the Commission and on the Council to listen to us and to focus on the voices of the European people.”
GUE/NGL MEP Xabier Benito highlighted the contradictions inherent in the current financial framework:
“We find ourselves with a framework that promises to give us stability to certain programmes but in fact it has not been able to meet the challenges we have in the EU and much less to face the crises in which we are immersed.”
“We see this in how the Juncker plan is being implemented. It doesn´t really give us the investment that was planned. Programmes like FRONTEX and ITER are being bolstered while undermining Horizon 2020 or social integration programmes. We care more about borders than the future of our people.”
The Spanish MEP criticized the inherent democratic deficit in the MFF, in reference to the Commission and Council´s attempt to transform the EU budget into a simple guarantee fund, where the European Parliament and citizens have no say:
“We cannot continue to create financial instruments that escape democratic control, transparency and the decisions of this Parliament.”
“We need to recover the flag of solidarity. We need a financial framework that does not limit us. An investment plan able to change the production and energy model, enhance social support, cohesion, research. Only then we will have a Europe that does not not leave anyone behind,” the Spanish MEP concluded.