Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.02 12 Jul 2020


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The vice-president of the European Parliament has said a deal is 'not guaranteed' over the EU's COVID-19 recovery package.

European Union leaders, including Taoiseach Micheál Martin, will physically meet in Brussels to discuss the plan to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

A new long-term EU budget will also be on the agenda at the special European Council meeting from next Friday.

Mairead McGuinness told On The Record there is "a lot of disagreement still."

"Now we have two big pots of money on the table and a lot of disagreement still".

She said most of the €750bn package is to be made as grants, rather than loans, to the worst-hit member states.

"It would have to be invested in projects with some return, because I think the whole idea of this is not to just go back to where we were - but to rise us beyond it.

"The big question about grants is that some member states, like the Dutch, don't believe in grants - they believe low-interest loans are acceptable.

"There's also a debate on the key that will be used to allocate the funds and there's some disagreements between member states on that.

"There is then a discussion around how is this money repaid?

"So it's borrowed by the commission, it has to be repaid.

"And there are some who would say this needs to be repaid earlier, rather than stretched over seven or longer years - and that we need to find own resources to finance the re-payment of these big loans.

"That's on that side - the recovery package.

"On the budget itself, our concern in the parliament is that the budget is the given - we know it's there and it funds all our usual policies - we are fearful, and I think rightly so, of a trade-off between the big €750bn and a lower budget.

"So there's a big battle, if you like, between the institutions on that".

"While this week is very important and I would hope that there will be a breakthrough, I think that it's not guaranteed because there are so many different issues that different member states will want to raise, including conditionality on these loans or grants around rule of law, which are important and all of the groups in the parliament would be in support of that".

"If things don't go along at pace, we're very close to the autumn and we don't have a budget fixed, so that will be quite difficult.

"And on top of that, we haven't mentioned Brexit.

"One of the interesting things to come out of this week's proposal from the President of the European Council Charles Michel is that he wants to have a €5bn fund for Brexit.

"Those regions and sectors, and that would presumably be Ireland... would have a dedicated fund to help us through whatever happens when it comes to the future".

She added: "I don't think there's anyone disagrees that we need a massive package to kick-start the European economy.

"And equally those countries that are cautious - I think they understand that if Europe's economy fails and fails to recover, that their own  economy will not be helped.

"So in other words, there's a collective interest in the recovery of the European economy which everybody will buy into".

Agreement on EU COVID-19 recovery package 'not guaranteed'

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Main image: Mairead McGuinness is seen at the European Parliament in Brussels. Picture by: European Parliament

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Brussels Budget COVID-19 Recovery Package EU Mairead McGuinness On The Record Special European Council Meeting

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