Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The European Commission has responded to the urgent need for a substantial revision of the European Union’s (EU) long-term budget by presenting a revised Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).
Jan Olbrycht MEP, in his initial comments, welcomed the proposal but highlighted that the issue is not fully resolved. The proposal aims to address the increased interest costs on debt repayments under the Union’s COVID-19 recovery fund, which has been a source of concern for the EPP Group.
The EU budget, already under strain, faced unpredictable borrowing costs that posed a threat to flagship programs like Erasmus+. While the Commission’s proposal removes the extra cost of rising interest rates from the main budget lines, Olbrycht expressed disappointment that the entire Recovery Instrument debt cost was not completely taken out of the main budget headings. He emphasized that agreed EU programs should not have to compete for funding against debt costs.
Expressing solidarity with Ukraine, the EPP Group fully supports the EU’s plans to provide further financial aid to the country. The newly proposed ‘Ukraine Facility’ will receive €15 billion in funding to address external and internal migration pressures and strengthen partnerships with key third countries. This move is welcomed by the EPP Group as a necessary step to assist Ukraine and promote stability in the region.
Olbrycht highlighted the lack of flexibility and underfinancing of important programs in the current MFF. Unforeseen crises, including the war in Ukraine, have further strained the EU’s resources. The EPP Group has consistently called for substantial reinforcements supported by fresh money. The Commission’s focus on boosting competitiveness through initiatives like the STEP platform and allocating additional funds to InvestEU, Horizon Europe, Innovation Fund, and the European Defense Fund is viewed as a step in the right direction. However, the EPP Group emphasized the need for close scrutiny of all aspects of the proposal in the coming days.
“This revision offers the chance to restore the EU’s budgetary power. But there is no time to waste. We will insist that the revised MFF is in place by 1 January 2024,” stated Olbrycht, underlining the importance of timely implementation.
The proposed revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework will now undergo further analysis and discussions within the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. The aim is to address the financial challenges faced by the EU and ensure the availability of adequate resources to support key programs and respond effectively to unforeseen circumstances.
As the negotiations progress, stakeholders will closely monitor the developments, emphasizing the need for a sustainable and flexible budget that reflects the evolving needs and priorities of the European Union and its member states.