Extracts from the speech of European Parliament President David Sassoli to the European Council
“Time is a luxury we cannot afford. We need to act urgently and courageously, as EU citizens, businesses and economies need an immediate response. Our citizens expect bold action. Now it is time for us to deliver.
“I thank the Commission for putting forward an ambitious proposal. However, ambitious as it may be, in our view it only scratches the surface of what needs to be done. We will accept no retreat from this initial position, which we should take as our starting point and improve upon, to ensure that the critical decisions we take now benefit everyone. Nobody should be left behind.
“Parliament is keen to stress that any common debt issued must be repaid fairly, without burdening future generations. We can achieve this with a drive for work and social wellbeing. In that regard, let us not forget that providing support solely in the form of loans would have an asymmetric impact on the indebtedness of individual Member States and would be more costly for the Union as a whole. We have an opportunity now to refashion Europe and make it fairer, greener, and forward looking. To this end, we should seize our chance to introduce a basket of new own resources. As our legacy to future generations, we want to settle the revenue issue once and for all, with solutions that will make the EU strong, more self-sufficient, and its finances sustainable. The overwhelming majority of Parliament believes that any overarching agreement on the Multiannual Financial Framework must meet these conditions.
“I am deeply concerned about the impact that the crisis is having on people’s lives. I have received – as I am sure you all have – pleas for help from many charities working with our nations’ most vulnerable people. We must listen to these voices and reassure them that we will never waver in our support for those in need.
“As one arm of the budgetary authority and co-legislator, Parliament has a duty to citizens that it has every intention of fulfilling. In particular, we need to ensure we have a say in decisions on the implementation of the Recovery Plan and on how money is raised, allocated and spent.
“The recovery we have set out depends to a large extent on EUR 500 billion in external resources, guaranteed by the budget. It would be unthinkable for these resources to evade Parliament’s democratic scrutiny. This brings me to the core of my message: we need a common approach, with the broadest possible consensus, that combines urgent action with a forward-looking vision to build a stronger and more resilient Europe that serves everyone's interests. Now is not the time to water down our ambitions. We need to show our citizens the value of Europe and our ability to come up with solutions that matter in their lives.
“Finally, turning our attention to EU-UK relations, yesterday Parliament adopted its resolution by a majority of 81% of the votes cast. Our message, which I conveyed to the UK Prime Minister at the High-Level Conference, is clear: we will push for an ambitious, overarching and comprehensive agreement in line with the joint commitments undertaken in the political declaration. We believe that this is the best possible outcome for both sides and, despite the limited time available, with goodwill and determination, it is still possible.”