European Council President Charles Michel on Wednesday urged MEPs to stop asking for more money for the EU’s long-term budget and coronavirus recovery package.
Speaking following a debate on Brexit and the Multiannual Financial Framework at the European Parliament in Brussels, Michel “respectfully and politely” asked MEPs to back down on their request for €39 billion in additional funding for budget programs such as Erasmus, a sum which includes at least €9 billion in fresh money.
“Never in the history of the European Union have we been able to unblock as much money as we did … in terms of the recovery fund,” Michel told MEPs, saying it was “proportionately much more” than the money provided by China and the United States. “So I ask respectfully and politely to the European Parliament that when we debate these questions, they present the big picture.”
“I respect the fact that for the Parliament the amount proposed by the Council in terms of the MFF is not sufficient,” Michel said. “But when we hear that [there will be] massive cuts in Erasmus, in innovation funds, in defense funds, tell us, when you talk about cuts … cuts in comparison to what?”
EU leaders agreed on a €1.82 trillion budget and coronavirus recovery package in July, but the Parliament asked for concessions to be made in four areas: more money for 15 budget programs including research and health; a binding calendar for new sources of income; a bigger role for MEPs in the planned €750 billion recovery fund; and a strong mechanism linking the distribution of EU funding to rule-of-law criteria.
MEPs must give their consent to the bloc’s long-term budget, running from 2021 to 2027, while the Council will also need to sign off on the final budget numbers.