The European Parliament will mobilise a majority against Commission President José Manuel Barroso’s five billion euro stimulus plan, Claude Turmes, vice-president of the Green / European Free Alliance Group in the European Parliament, told EURACTIV in an interview.
Turmes made clear that he is against the Commission’s recent proposal to reallocate five billion euro of unspent EU money, mostly to support energy projects (EURACTIV 29/01/09).
He attacked it on two grounds: that it will not be able to play the role of a recovery package, as the projects foreseen will take a long time to be put in place, and that in fact the initial plan has been “twisted” by Germany and the UK, so that countries with weak economies, especially in Eastern Europe, will only get “peanuts”.
The MEP believes that the European Parliament, which is due to co-decide on the stimulus plan after the spring summit of EU heads of state and government on 19-20 March, will “stop Mr Barroso and his ideas about the recovery plan”.
He said he is sure that a majority improving the plan will emerge, with the Liberals, the Socialists and the Greens, as well as part of the EPP, pushing in this direction. Leading EPP-ED MEPs from East European countries have told him the stimulus plan is “scandalous”, he added.
East European politicians have already attacked the stimulus plan at various levels (EURACTIV 04/02/09).
Turmes warned the EU not to depart from its historic solidarity principles and revealed his own ideas on how to spend 3.5 billion euro earmarked for energy projects to stimulate the ailing EU economies.
“The only way to reach a deal is to use the 3.5 billion not as grants, but to transfer the money, or at least large parts of it, to the European Investment Bank, to serve for guarantees for investments, especially in those economies which need to pay more for lending,” Turmes elaborated.
“If we do that, then we are not speaking any more about 3.5 billion, and little money for the Eastern governments, but 25-30 billion, leveraged through a cleverly-placed budget from the EU, through the EIB,” he continued.
Asked if he is aiming to stop Barroso from being re-elected as Commission president, Turmes made clear that this is not his objective.
“These are two issues which are not formally linked. My interest is to do something which makes sense for Europe. I have no particular interest in whether this dossier is linked to the re-election of Mr Barroso,” Turmes said.