Mayors of Warsaw and Budapest call for full respect of the rule of law and overcoming vetoes
Against the backdrop of the second corona wave, cities and regions represented in the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) back the German Presidency efforts and emphasise the urgent need for agreement on the next EU long-term budget and the recovery funds. These funds are vital for local and regional authorities to enact measures against the impact of COVID-19 as well as to accelerate a sustainable recovery.
On Tuesday 10 November, the European Parliament budget negotiators and the Council Presidency reached an agreement outlining the 2021-27 EU budget and the recovery fund. This compromise, which still needs to be formally endorsed by the Council and the EP plenary, is being blocked by the member states Hungary and Poland, in their dispute over linking EU funds to respect for the rule of law. Cities and regions are deeply concerned that this veto will slow down the implementation of the 1.8 trillion new long-term EU budget and the coronavirus recovery package. Funds which are urgently needed funds to address the negative impact of the corona in Europe’s cities and regions.
"We are facing the severe consequences of the second wave. While people and businesses might just have held their heads above water after the first lockdown, the rising numbers will take a toll on our societies and economies. We need the EU budget and recovery plans – as shaped in the compromise promoted by the German Presidency – to be adopted now, together with the rule of law mechanism agreed with the European Parliament, which provides adequate protection for final beneficiaries. Cities and regions are on the frontline of the pandemic and the recovery and need EU resources for vital investment to be available as of January 2021", said Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions.
“It has been known for years that if the basic principles of the rule of law are violated, the Law and Justice government will have to face the consequences. And it is exactly what is happening just now in front of our eyes”, said Rafał Trzaskowski (EPP/PL), CoR member and Mayor of Warsaw. “Vetoing the budget from which Poland is to be the greatest beneficiary is simply a suicidal undertaking. It is beyond comprehension”, he added.
"Viktor Orbán in Hungary and the national conservative government in Poland are taking Europe's recovery hostage, without thinking nor caring about the millions of people who lost their jobs, the looming economic crisis and the pressing need to combat the climate emergency. They know that they are breaching the rule of law in their countries, otherwise they wouldn't be so afraid that the rule of law mechanism is approved. The European Union is founded on fundamental values and the rule of law, which are not negotiable. Cohesion policy is not a blank cheque", said Isabelle Boudineau (PES/FR), Chair of the COTER Commission in the European Committee of the Regions and Vice-president of Nouvelle-Aquitaine in charge of Europe and International Affairs.
"The European Union should not fund corrupt governments, nor should it have to: cities and metropolitan areas are closer to the citizens and better positioned to spend the money responsibly and productively to invest into a greener, healthier, and more resilient future“, said Gergely Karácsony, Mayor of Budapest.
The CoR rapporteur on the Multiannual Financial Framework, Nikola Dobroslavić (HR/EPP), said: "The swift adoption of new MFF and the recovery package prior to the beginning of the new financial period 2021-2027 is of the utmost importance for cities and regions to be able to implement concrete projects. Europe cannot recover without the active role of cities and regions".