Press release: Recovery fund and new proposal for EU budget – a further step towards a federal Europe

“Eurosceptics across the continent might be fuming now: President von der Leyen has proven to us yesterday that the EU’s supranational institutions are alive and kicking. The plan and the proposed financing methods are clearly based on federalist thinking, both in terms of dimension of efforts and needed after-shock stabilization instruments. Truly thinking what was unthinkable just a few months ago, taboos are broken, precedents are set, and even the natural instinct of the European Council to slash ambitious leaps forward will take a beating this time around. Collectively borrowing the necessary funds to finance the joint effort for the recovery from COVID-19, and repaying the money lent to the EU budget with genuine European taxes – ‘own resources’, in Brussels jargon – can be a total game changer in the path of the EU towards political maturity. The proposed recovery plan – the new ‘Next Generation EU’ instrument and the revamped MFF proposal – puts European solidarity front and center again. Our organisation’s motto is ‘Simply a generation ahead’. One may be excused for wondering if the Commission didn’t feel a bit inspired by it when ‘preparing for the next generation’”, says President of JEF Leonie Martin.

“In fact, we have been warning for weeks now that the European project can be severely threatened by the lack of long-term vision and European leadership among heads of government. Surely there are still aspects that can be improved, but this proposal is a political signal, telling citizens across Europe that we are only as strong as we are united, and that the health of one is the health of all, including when it comes to the economy”, continues Martin.

Talking about the Recovery Fund, Martin says, “As federalists, we see this instrument as an important step for the future of Europe and a step towards a further integrated Union. The title of the programme is a nod to the Star Trek series which depicts a universe in the ‘United Federation of Planets’ as surely the Commission is also aware. Combining both loans and grants, the package can be of interest to all parts of Europe whilst the emphasis lies on European solidarity through grants. In addition, this plan will be financed by recovery bonds, for which we have been advocating, managed by the European Commission and guaranteed by the EU budget. The proposal together with the Commission’s initial package of EUR 540 billion, gives hope for the future of Europe and young Europeans”, declares Martin. 

“While we deplore the reduction in Erasmus+ funding compared to the Commission’s initial proposal of 2018, we think it’s a good sign that the European Commission has increased the Erasmus+ proposal from the Council bid in February, as long as the Member States and the European Parliament do not lose the ambition to invest in the next generations, active European citizenship and democracy”, states Martin. “In that regard, with democracy and the Rule of Law becoming crucial issues across Europe, we are curious to read the concrete proposals on conditionality on EU funds, should a Member State violate this European value”.

“Let’s be real, as important and needed as this is, this is not the very first phase of the pandemic and the following economic crisis. The past weeks have shown that a speedy reaction, in the European interest, is hampered by the way that the European Union is currently set up. Unlike what some Member States argue, this is precisely the time for institutional reforms: 69% of citizens want more competences for the EU to deal with crises like COVID-9, according to a survey conducted at the end of April 2020. This is why it’s even more pressing for the Council to follow the way indicated during the last meeting of the EP’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs on what the Conference on the Future should look like. An interinstitutional agreement is very much needed before summer”. 

President of the European Parliament David Sassoli named yesterday as the 21st Century European D-Day. We call on the few reluctant governments to come forward now and follow the spirit of those words, realizing that a united, democratic and strong European Union is the only possibility to achieve our common interest as European citizens. “Time is of essence here. The MFF needs to be finalized in the light of these expectations by the end of the year. We call on all stakeholders to act constructively and in the European interest, for the next generation”, concludes Martin. 

Background on the recovery plan

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen presented yesterday in the plenary of the European Parliament the first parts of the EU economic recovery plan, named  ‘Next Generation EU’, as well as a new proposal for the long-term EU budget, called the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). The much expected Recovery Instrument will include 500 billion Euro conditional grants issued directly by the Commission, while the remaining 250 billion Euro will be long-term loans over the next seven years. The proposal aims for the countries most affected by the Coronavirus to benefit most from it. The MFF has been proposed to 1.1 trillion Euro, bringing the proposed EU budget to 1.85 trillion Euro. 

JEF Europe’s statements on economic recovery after COVID-19

About JEF Europe

The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe is a non-partisan youth NGO active with 13.000 members active in more than 30 countries. The organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy and subsidiarity as well as respect for human rights. JEF promotes true European Citizenship, and works towards more active participation of young people in democratic life. While the umbrella organisation JEF Europe was founded in 1972, its sections have been operating continuously since the end of the Second World War, making it the oldest pro-European and only federalist youth organisation.