EU power struggle: Influential MEPs threaten to veto bloc’s trillion-euro budget

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The centre-right European People’s Party have called for its MEPs to be handed a “stronger role” in deciding how EU funds are spent. Their warning comes ahead of a crunch summit of European leaders next week when they will debate the bloc’s next seven-year budget and the proposed €750 billion coronavirus recovery fund. In a letter to David Sassoli, the EU Parliament’s president, the EPP said: “In order to make sure the recovery initiative funds are well-spent, a clear European framework, based on European added-value, democratic control and scrutiny is indispensable.

“The European Parliament as the only directly elected European institution must be involved in all spending decisions, as well as in the ex-post verification that money is well-spent in the interest of Europe citizens.”

EPP MEPs “intend to ensure a stronger role for the budgetary authority in the annual budgetary procedure to authorise the use of the external assigned revenue”, the note, seen by, added.

They have asked Mr Sassoli to forward on their demands to European Council President Charles Michel before he presents his latest EU budget proposal.

The EU Parliament doesn’t currently hold the powers to be fully involved in spending reviews across member states.

Capitals are currently held accountable for their spending by the European Council and European Commission.

The EPP has called for a new “binding” role for the Parliament, which should be recognised “by the Commission and Council via the new inter-institutional agreement, in the European Semester as a whole”.

Under plans devised by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the EU could borrow €750 billion on the international markets in order to distribute funds to the bloc’s pandemic-stricken regions and industries.

As much as €500 billion is earmarked to be handed out as non-repayable grants, while €250 billion would also be made available in the form of low-cost loans.

There are concerns that vast sums could be misspent once it reaches capitals, with some calling for strict political conditions attached to accessing the funds and others asking for cash to be used to pay for green initiatives.

Writing on Twitter, the EPP group said: “We call for all RRF spending to be clearly earmarked & subject to appropriate transparency requirements including publication requirements for a list of final beneficiaries.

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“We also insist that all EU spending be subject to rule of law mechanism embodying our common values.”

They vowed to veto the bloc’s next budget unless the EU is allowed to raise money through taxation in order to finance the repayment of the recovery fund.

Its MEPs want a “positive list of spending” to be defined by the EU as a way of keeping member states in line.

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The battles over the bloc’s recovery fund comes after the Commission released a harrowing series of economic forecasts.

France, Italy and Spain’s economies are expected to contract more than 10 percent this year.

The 19-member Eurozone will slump by a record 8.7 percent, according to the Commission’s summer forecast.

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