Saturday, January 16

The year in which European construction rebounded

First good news After initial moments of disorientation, the EU institutions took a decisive step forward and have made a decisive contribution in this period to lessen the impact of the pandemic. The health-related measures are enormous: purchase of material, vaccine purchase agreements, exchange of experiences and data analysis, activation of the Emergency Assistance Instrument to directly support the health systems of the Member States, development of a coordinated strategy for the deployment and distribution of vaccines and, finally, the proposal to create a Health Union.

Second good news. The response to support people and companies in the short term was immediate. Among many other measures, and regardless of the huge credits offered by the ECB and the EIB, it is worth recalling the adoption of a Temporary Framework that allows full use of the flexibility provided for in the State aid rules, the activation of the general safeguard clause of the Stability and Growth Pact, the launch of the European Data Platform on COVID-19, the adoption of a banking package to make it easier for banks to grant loans to families and businesses, the issuance of social bonds to help protect employment or the approval of financial assistance of € 81.4 billion to the Member States under the SURE Instrument.

Third good news. The economic response in the medium and long term was gradually taking shape until on December 11, the European Council unblocked – albeit with a ruse that will surely raise blisters in Parliament at the time – the veto of Hungary and Poland on the final adoption of The entire financial and budgetary package for a total of 1.8 billion euros, which may begin to apply from January 1, 2021.

Fourth good news. The economic response to the pandemic offered a new opportunity: to prioritize climate action. There will be no other opportunity like this to accelerate the ecological transition and modernize the economies of the old continent in search of sustainable development: at least 30% of the total amount of spending must be allocated for this purpose. On the other hand, the European Council of 11 December urged to ensure that the EU’s trade policy and its trade agreements were always consistent with this priority and endorsed the new binding target for the EU of a net internal reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse effect, between now and 2030, of at least 55% compared to 1990 values. Parliament and the Council are obliged to reflect this new objective in the European Climate Law that should be adopted in 2021.

Fifth good news. Was avoided in extremis the “hard Brexit”. As we have been accustomed to since its inception, the European integration process advances by means of agreements forged in the extension, and in this case it could not be less: with the table set to celebrate -in private- Christmas Eve the smoke arrived white and narrowly avoided another catastrophe. It is green that the EU-UK Agreement is framed in a context of a privileged free trade area, but it leaves out many matters of great relevance that will have to continue to be negotiated throughout the coming year, such as cooperation in matters of security and foreign policy , financial services, student exchange, judicial cooperation in civil matters … or the Gibraltar regime. Still, one should be glad: the UK is leaving the EU… but it is entering Europe.

In short, this year has been the awakening of the European Parliament, and this is news – the sixth – that deserves to be highlighted. Once an elephant graveyard, today European citizens are fortunate to have a large group of young MEPs – many of them Spanish – who, coming from almost all political colors, have understood that it is time to work together for European construction and to vindicate with facts the relevance of an institution that must be capital in the advance of the EU towards a true federal structure. The readers of this newspaper know well the good work of Domènec Ruiz Devesa, always attentive to explain in a simple way from the inside what some of us barely sputter from the outside. I wish Spanish politicians who play at home would take note of this example.

And the thing is that in the year that begins in a flash, we risk a good part of our future capital. That is why it is essential that the Conference on the Future of Europe be convened as soon as possible. The pandemic can no longer be an excuse to delay a debate that becomes more urgent every day, a debate that should lead to the signing of a Treaty that once and for all lays the foundations for Europe to once again be able to contribute a relevant contribution to the enormous challenges posed to humanity by the new cognitive society.

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