July 28, 2021

the money will finally be able to arrive in the coffers of the Member States

It is done ! The European Commission will finally be able to borrow on the markets and finance the recovery plan of 750 billion euros (in the form of subsidies for 390 billion, and loans for 360 billion) which should help the 27 to face the ravages economic aspects of the Covid-19 crisis. Thursday, May 27, the two member states whose parliaments had not yet spoken – Austria and Poland – gave the green light to the operation. The day before, Hungary and Romania had done the same.

It took ten months for this crucial step to be taken, after the European heads of state and government agreed, on July 21, 2020, after four days and four nights of negotiations, to jointly borrow what to support the countries most affected by the pandemic.

It may seem like a long time, but in European history it is almost an achievement. “For the approval of the European multiannual budget 2014-2020, the member states also had to ratify it. At the time, it took twenty-eight months ”, confides a European civil servant.

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In total, twenty-two parliaments (composed of at least two chambers) – in five member states, it is not necessary to consult the legislative assemblies – which had to pronounce on a politically sensitive subject.

Between on the one hand, the frugal (Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland), culturally hostile to the concept of common debt, and on the other, Poland and Hungary, opposed to the establishment of the mechanism of conditionality of the payment of European aid to respect for the rule of law, the risks of going off the road were real. If only one of them had failed, the whole edifice of the recovery plan, painfully put in place, collapsed.

An exercise that must remain “exceptional”

The holding of legislative elections (not planned) in the Netherlands in mid-March worried in Brussels, but the re-election of Prime Minister Mark Rutte quickly reassured. In Germany, the suspension of the ratification process by the Constitutional Court on March 26, following an appeal for interim relief which challenged the unprecedented common debt mechanism, was ultimately only short-lived.

As for Finland, where the ratification of the European recovery plan required a qualified two-thirds majority, it finally gave the green light. By specifying that this exercise should remain “ exceptional “ and would not serve as a “Previous”. It must be said that, the day before the vote in Helsinki, Valdis Dombrovskis, the Vice-President of the Commission, spoke to the European Parliament about the prospect of having “A permanent instrument” common debt …

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