Pedro Silva, vice president of the European Parliament, emphasizes the role of the institution to give free rein to the millionaire injection that will arrive in each country this semester
It is not easy to manage an assembly with 27 nationalities, but Pedro Silva, the “number two” in the European Parliament, emphasizes his discreet work and “less politicized than in each country”, he admits, but very active in these months to approve the necessary community resilience plan.
– What role does Parliament play in the approval and distribution of funds?
– Parliament has been able to pass emergency legislative measures, to mobilize financial means to respond to the crisis, which would not have been possible otherwise. Because we have an essential word in the legislative process. In the end, we ended up playing an important role in the approval of the financial package for the recovery of the European economy after the July agreement. There is a very powerful financial volume. We were a decisive voice in that agreement because we have managed to increase the available resources and thus address some priorities that were less considered in the Commission’s proposal.
– Can the EU paralyze the funds if the reforms of the countries are not correct?
–The Commission is responsible for managing the funds and ensuring compliance with financial rules. The agreement made it clear that the rules of the rule of law must be respected and is a condition for the application of the funds. But I think the most important thing is to understand how the financial response that the EU has constructed to this crisis is radically different from the response to the previous crisis. This is an extra change in giving a stronger and more caring response. We have to get the money to the real economy. I am more concerned with this than with any other matter, because the employment and economic situation is dramatic.
– What improvements has Parliament included in the funds?
– Investments in health are an obvious priority and here we have achieved a reinforcement. We have also managed to anticipate the funds to be delivered to the countries, avoiding being subject to bureaucratic and regulatory procedures. With this sense of urgency, the percentage of funds that will be distributed automatically has increased. In addition, there are several European programs that were less valued and that we have been able to increase in the areas of scientific research, including the domains of the Erasmus program that have also been reinforced.
– Companies and citizens are eager to receive the money …
– That is the highest priority of the Portuguese presidency. That means that now that the agreement on the financial package is made, we have to approve about 40 sector regulations to apply those funds. And more importantly, approve the 27 national recovery plans. The goal of the Portuguese presidency is that by the end of the term, by June at the latest, all regulations and plans are approved so that the funds can be applied. But, in addition to these mechanisms, we have the possibility of anticipating 3% of the recovery plan even before approving those regulations. And therefore it is the possibility that some money may reach the real economy sooner. And we have a rule that tells us that some of these pieces that are being made since February last year in response to the pandemic, are unreadable to be financed by European funds. Even expenses already made during the pandemic can be made with this European financial coverage. These instruments help mobilize resources.
– In any case, will it be difficult to approve the plans in each of the Member States?
–These plans have to be aligned with European priorities in the area of the environment and green Europe, as well as with digitization objectives. All these plans have to be in tune with European political priorities. In my opinion, the greatest difficulty lies in the political doubts of some countries because the political reality of some countries is more complicated and a political crisis may appear that delays the process. I sincerely believe that countries are very focused on the goal of quickly delivering their plans and getting approval. But it is also true that there is a lot of work ahead and there are doubts on the way.
Portugal, the engine that drives the recovery amid the pandemic
Jose Maria Camarero
European Union [EU], Europe, Portugal, Coronavirus COVID-19, Economic crisis