European Union (EU) institutions have started talks on the implementation of a massive recovery package linked to the bloc’s next seven-year budget that was agreed during a summit meeting this month.
Their aim is also to conclude an agreement with the European Parliament, which demands significant improvements to the plans, reports Xinhua news agency.
In a telephone call on Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen discussed the matter with European Parliament (EP) President David Sassoli and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who chairs the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU.
The European Commission said in a statement that the three leaders had discussed the next steps in the adoption of the EU’s recovery package and the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).
Last week, a sizeable majority of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) demanded significant changes to the EU budget deal, saying that they were prepared to block it unless it was improved.
Several MEPs told the EP’s extraordinary plenary session last week that they were disappointed that many of the priorities in the MFF had their fundings cut substantially, while other funds had been transferred to the pandemic recovery plan.
A resolution warning that the long-term budget could be blocked unless improved was adopted by 465 votes in favour and 150 against.
MEPs are expected to vote on the MFF later this year.
It took the heads of state and government of the 27 EU member states four days to hammer out an agreement on the over 1 trillion-euro MFF in conjunction with a 750-billion-euro economic recovery package that aims to help EU countries bounce back from the recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Von der Leyen, Sassoli and Merkel also discussed the inter-institutional negotiations that lie ahead to enable a swift adoption of the package building on the agreement reached by the European Council and on the resolution adopted by the European Parliament.
According to the Commission statement, the three leaders reaffirmed that reaching a good agreement rapidly is their highest priority for the coming weeks and concurred that there was no time to waste.
They agreed on a method and a calendar to ensure that the recovery package will be in place by January 1, 2021.
For the recovery package to become operational, the European Parliament said it was ready to give its opinion on the EU’s system of own resources as quickly as possible.
Following the formal adoption of this decision by the Council, the member states would then need to ratify it.
The negotiations on the sectoral programs under the next MFF also must be completed before the end of the year.