The recent Franco-German proposal for a €500 billion Recovery Fund is the result of French President Emmanuel Macron’s “turning point” last April, MEP Sandro Gozi told EURACTIV.it in an interview.
“I place a lot of hope in the European action of Macron, who made a very important turning point in April. For the first time in a long time, a French president did not accept a minimalist compromise offered by Germany,” said Gozi, an Italian MEP elected in France with En Marche.
“But [Macron] aggregated a group of countries with Italy, Spain, Portugal, working to include Ireland, Luxembourg, Belgium, avoiding a blockade of the South against the North, which is not in anyone’s interest. An agreement in principle was reached on the Recovery Fund and Recovery Bonds, taking Germany to positions that were unthinkable until some time ago,” Gozi added.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Macron announced their joint proposal for a €500 billion European recovery programme following a virtual conference on Monday (18 May).
The initiative, which is based on grants instead of loans, was hailed by the European Commission, European Parliament and the European Central Bank, while Europe’s south said it was a good starting point.
The big question now is the conditionality that will accompany this money.
An EU diplomat said on Tuesday that all EU money comes with ‘conditionality’. “The reason is simple: if you are spending everybody’s money, terms must apply,” the diplomat said.
Gozi said for political, economic and cultural reasons, any idea of relaunching Europe that does not include them is a “non-starter”.
“Today there is no longer a real Franco-German couple, and Italy is in a position of objective weakness and difficulty. Italy is the main beneficiary of the ECB’s action and will be the main beneficiary of the Recovery Fund. This economic vulnerability obviously weakens us,” he said.
Gozi said a relaunch of the Union should be based on stronger protection of the rule of law and fundamental values, on a plan for economic and social recovery and ecological transformation financed with own resources and common European debt.
“An advanced compromise would be to agree on a recovery and transformation plan, financed by common European debt, based on new European own resources, which is an embryo of the budgetary capacity, i.e. European fiscal capacity, which we federalists believe is necessary. It would be a good step towards the Europe we want. To do so, the French, Germans and Italians must think the unthinkable,” he emphasised.
“Much will depend on the courage of the von der Leyen Commission, who even mentioned Altiero Spinelli in her speech to the European Parliament – who must make an ambitious proposal, not the lowest common denominator of the 27, taking the political direction of the Parliament which gave her its confidence,” he added.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos | EURACTIV.com]