MEPs approved on Friday a resolution calling for a €2 trillion recovery fund to rebuild Europe’s economy after the COVID-19 pandemic.
It asks the European Commission for “a global package of €2 trillion”, which should be made of “public and private investment” and “a recovery fund which would deliver assistance mostly in the form of grants”.
“The economic reboot must come on top of, and not at the cost of pre-existing programmes,” the European Parliament said.
'Clean revenue sources'
The EU Parliament did not say where private investments would come from but insisted on “finding new sources of EU revenue”, primarily from what it described as “clean revenue sources” such as taxing digital giants and big polluters.
Such new, “clean” sources would allow for bigger revenue without increasing EU countries' financial contributions.
“The recovery fund should address inequalities and mitigate the social and economic impacts of the crisis,” the European Parliament said. “This means supporting small and medium businesses, consumers, workers and families.”
The resolution was approved by 505 votes against 119, with 69 abstentions. It was backed by all five main parliamentary groups: the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), the European People’s Party (EPP), Renew Europe, the Greens / EFA and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR).
This strong support from all sides led European Parliament President David Sassoli to declare that the Parliament is sending a “powerful message to other EU institutions” and would embolden it in negotiations with the European Commission.
“We will not sit and wait or just rubber-stamp any deal,” Sassoli warned. “We need to show real ambition in the coming period of reconstruction.”
A resolution is not legally binding: it is a proposition made by MEPs for the consideration of the European Commission.
'Increase the EU’s budget'
The goal of the resolution is to include the recovery fund into the EU’s next budget, also called MFF for "Multiannual Financial Framework".
The next seven-year budget is planned to start in 2021. The EU Parliament has repeatedly called to set the Green Deal and the European digital agenda as priorities in the bloc’s next budget.
“We want a recovery and transformation funds fighting COVID-19 and the climate crisis with public investments in climate-proofed infrastructure and health care,” the Green MEP Rasmus Andresen said.
“We are fighting for a permanent increase of the budget. Digital companies and polluters should pay their fair share and finance needed public spending.”
The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will attend the European Parliament's extraordinary plenary on 27 May, where she will present the Commission's reconstruction plan.
In the meantime, EU institutions are expected to start discussing the resolution behind closed doors: Sassoli has called on the EU Commission to “immediately” start the inter-institution negotiation on the reconstruction fund.
MEPs must vote on any deal put forward by the EU Commission.
“If its demands are not met, parliament will make use of its veto powers,” the institution warned.