EU leaders may have agreed on the EU’s COVID-19 recovery package after marathon talks, but it is not yet a done deal.
It now faces scrutiny in the European Parliament on Thursday.
MEPs must sign-off on the package, but the Parliament’s president sees room for improvement after cuts to the one-trillion euro budget.
“There is a proposal on the table, but we would like to improve that, we want to improve it above all by trying to give answers to some of the cuts that we’ve seen unjustified. If we want to bet on future generations, we cannot cut the budget for research and young people and Erasmus,” said David Sassoli, European Parliament President.
A heated debate is expected over the cuts to research, innovation, health and climate policies.
MEPs are keen to have their voices heard and will have the final say on the long-term budget.
In reality, they are limited in how much they can change.
“They have to approve the EU budget, but they cannot change what has been agreed by the leaders when they vote,” says Eric Maurice, Director Robert Schuman Foundation.
He explains that, politically, it’s very difficult for them to say ‘No’ to a deal which everyone has been saying for weeks now that it’s urgent.
MEPs also want to see rule of law safeguarded. They want clear conditions that countries flouting democratic values have their funding frozen.
When it comes to funding the recovery, the European Parliament said it wants ‘binding commitments’ to new own resources that don’t harm the national taxpayers.
The scene is set for a tense showdown between Council, Commission and Parliament.