By Yannick Laude
The year 2022 will remain a year of economic crisis for many European sectors and regions. The EU’s 2021 budget, the first in the post-Brexit Multiannual Financial Framework, laid the groundwork for a budget to combat the disastrous effects of the pandemic crisis. For Renew Europe, the Budget 2022 must continue this urgent response to the economic and social needs of the population but must also lay the foundations for a sustainable and solid recovery, focused on the ecological and digital transition of the European economy in order to develop new opportunities for the job market. It is also time to consolidate the European institutions and the European Parliament thus intends to use all the means of democratic control at its disposal to monitor the implementation of the various national recovery plans largely financed by the EU.
Nicolae Ștefănuță, Renew Europe’s rapporteur for the 2022 budget, in the Parliamentary Committee on Budgets (BUDG), said:
“The year 2022 can be the 3rd year of the health crisis or optimistically speaking, the first year after the pandemic. Regardless of the scenario, the Union’s budget must be solid and help the economic and social recovery caused by the pandemic, with very important challenges for the resilience of national health systems, economy, rule of law, and our fundamental values that need to be addressed. Our priority is to boost the EU budget where there is space and to be creative there where the EU money is limited, we want to find the best balance and to give hope to our citizens that we can emerge victorious even after the toughest times.”
It is in this spirit that Renew Europe focused its priorities during today’s BUDG vote on budgetary guidelines for 2022, urging the European Commission to take them fully into account in the upcoming preparation of its preliminary draft Budget. A Renew Europe amendment thus allows the compromise to include a special sub-section on health, covering support for the EU4health program, as well as for the new decentralized agency, the Health Emergency Response Authority (HERA), the European Medicines Agency. (EMA), the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and strategic storage of medical equipment within the framework of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism. The sad news should not, however, make us forget that the EU budget must comply with the new objectives of the Union for 2030 in terms of climate, energy and biodiversity.
Renew Europe is particularly concerned with young people in these difficult times. Education and training must be the bedrock of European competitiveness. The group therefore gave central importance to the needs, policies and programs for youth and education, with more emphasis on Erasmus +, postponing to 2022 the unused funding from 2021, with additional support for vocational training. Another major axis of competitiveness: R&D. Renew Europe insists that unspent amounts on research from the previous MFF should be reinvested in the Horizon 2020 research program.
The common thread running through the Renew Europe proposals is the better use of taxpayers’ money. This is why, at its request, the draft resolution firmly calls for the rapid establishment of the democratic conditionality mechanism which will make it possible to suspend payments in favour of countries which do not respect the rule of law and whose judicial system is not able to fight against fraud on the EU budget. Renew Europe has also been attentive to ensure that the new European Public Prosecutor’s Office responsible for combating fraud against the EU’s financial interests is sufficiently staffed.
Finally, Mr Ștefănuță is proud to have included two strong ideas in the draft resolution on budgetary guidelines for 2022. His conviction first of all that the enlargement of the Schengen Area to Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia would constitute a factor of economic dynamism. His willingness then to support the Conference on the Future of Europe and the Rights and Values agenda, as these are tools that will help fight disinformation, populism and help promote the fundamental values of the EU.