In light of the European Commission’s proposal to suspend the European Structural and Investment Funds for Spain and Portugal over their failure to comply with deficit reduction, an extraordinary joint meeting between the Committee on Regional Development (REGI), Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) and the European Commission was held at the European Parliament in Strasbourg last night.

GUE/NGL MEPS, led by Younous Omarjee, vice-chair of the REGI committee, rounded on the Commission with the French MEP describing the proposal as absurd and dangerous:

“The European Parliament had been the last bastion against the introduction of ‘conditionalities’ to the Common Provisions Regulation for the funds. It would be most absurd for the Council to opt against imposing any fines and only then for the Parliament to approve this suspension.”

 “It’s unfair because member states are being penalised for political and budgetary decisions that are beyond their control.”

 “It’s also economically absurd because these structural funds create employment and growth in austerity-hit member states. Dangerous, too, for the European project as cohesion policy is not an instrument for the likes of Berlin to punish others as part of ‘fiscal discipline’,” said Omarjee.

Spanish and Portuguese MEPs also reacted with anger over these plans, with ECON coordinator and Portuguese MEP Marisa Matias commenting:

“What we are facing here today is an act of sabotage: a scheme that will deliberately keep Portugal and Spain in the economic doldrums just so that the Commission can continue to impose its hated policies which had long been rejected by voters.”

“This is an abuse of power and is subjecting the people of Spain and Portugal to austerity against their will – just in case they dare to decide on their own destiny,” said Matias.

REGI committee member and Spanish MEP Ángela Vallina was equally outraged by the proposals:

“This suspension is against the rules as it doesn't comply with the European Structural and Investment Funds’ (ESI) regulation that requires equal treatment between member states.”

“Never before has suspension of the funds been applied to a country just because they failed to comply with the deficit!”, surmised Vallina.

ECON committee member Portuguese MEP Miguel Viegas, meanwhile, described the plans as ‘blackmail’:

“This ‘structured dialogue’ with the Commissioners is part of an unacceptable blackmail process just so that all the European institutions remain on track for the EU’s neoliberal agenda.” 

“The euro, its rules and mechanisms are all obstacles to the sovereign development of member states. They need to be repealed at once,” added Viegas.

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