Press Release: JEF Europe calls on MEPs to make MFF truly historic

While the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and Recovery Funds called ‘Next Generation EU’, as negotiated by the European Council, represent a historic milestone for the European Union – thanks to the size and issuance of common debt – , JEF Europe saw an incredibly flawed process which laid bare the need for real change.

The nearly 90 hours of negotiations and multiple watered-down compromises furthermore reveal how obsolete the current intergovernmental setup is: ultimately the Council of the EU needs to become a real senate, on an equal footing with the European Parliament, and the European Council should be abolished. In the meantime, as a matter of urgency we must depart from the principle of unanimity and instead have majority voting: “the existing voting procedure allowed a few Member States to profile themselves as the veto-holder”, explains Leonie Martin, President of JEF Europe. 

Additionally, with serious threats to the rule of law in Europe multiplying, there was much hope put in a proposed conditionality mechanism in the Multiannual Financial Framework to protect European civil society. “An earlier draft connected the Rule of Law with the budget. However, the wording of the current proposal means the European Commission must now pick things up and deliver, to ensure the institution remains guardian of the treaties – otherwise this is useless”, says Martin. “Member States might have agreed on numbers this time, but at the expense of our fundamental values. Europe is not a zero-sum game.” 

The tendency of some national leaders to claw back as much money for themselves as they can damages the EU as a whole. We thus welcome the progress made towards new ‘own resources’ on European level but regret the lack of a precise roadmap to implementation and had hoped for more. 

“It is obvious that the 27 different successes that the heads of governments are now celebrating come at the loss of European public goods: whilst rebates were negotiated and issued, common goods such as the environment, Erasmus+, and research have been squeezed. Given the low budget, how is Europe supposed to deliver on the great challenges of our time? European citizens asked, and they will keep asking, for more solidarity in the EU, meaning that a much more ambitious long-term vision for the EU budget should have been agreed to”, says Martin. This is particularly true for the ambitions the EU has for the Green Deal. ‘Next Generation EU’, intended to be an investment programme for the future, has been deprived of much of the clout that the Parliament & Commission had in mind for it. Take the  ‘Just Transition Fund’ which should support our transformation into a green economy: it was cut by two-thirds. Worst of all, even if Member States do not commit to the EU’s target of climate neutrality by 2050, they can still access said fund.

Instead of 27 different interviews and spins, a connected European public space would allow for some truly reflective analysis. The members of the European Council, oddly enough, presented themselves during the special EUCO meeting as representing their citizens in Europe while their citizens, European citizens, ask for EU solidarity? We urge all Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to underline the supranational character of the European Union, highlight their mandate to represent the interests of European citizens, clarify the uncertainties around the EU’s own resources and push for an MFF that is ambitious on European public goods.

“The silver lining is that the European Council has shown its true character to the public: more people are calling more loudly for reform. This is why we have been calling on EU heads of government repeatedly to adopt an inter-institutional agreement on the Conference on the Future of Europe to be started as soon as possible”, states Martin. “It should be an opportunity to discuss and focus on important issues concerning the future of the European Union and be a step towards a real constituent assembly involving citizens and civil society”, continues Martin. “A tangible proposal on the table for a more democratic and federal Europe is needed now more than ever”. 

About JEF Europe’s positions

The non-partisan youth NGO JEF Europe is convinced that many contemporary challenges can only be tackled at European, if not global level. JEF Europe has long been calling for decisive EU and global action against climate change, as well as for a European Security and Defence Union, for a Social Union, for complementing the Economic and Monetary Union with a Fiscal Union and its own budget for macroeconomic stabilisation, and for a humane asylum and migration policy at European level. These political choices, however, have budgetary consequences.

Find our resolution on “A federal budget for the European youth: Reforming the Multiannual Financial Framework, re-adopted by the Federal Committee, Spring 2020. 

Alongside being a member of the European Youth Forum, which leads the “#InvestinYouth” campaign, JEF is part of the Erasmus Coalition who, ahead of the European Council, submitted a letter asking to triple the Erasmus+ budget line. As a member of Civil Society Europe, JEF furthermore promotes a strong Rights and Values instrument. 

More information on JEF Europe

The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe is a non-partisan youth NGO 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.

Contact information:

Leonie Martin
President, Young European Federalists
Rue d’Arlon 53
1000 Brussels