Politico- The EU’s next budget must be a “revitalization program” to help Europe recover from the coronavirus pandemic but should also link financial assistance to respect for the rule of law, according to Germany’s foreign minister.
“Our aim is for Europe to emerge from this crisis stronger, more united and more sovereign than it entered it,” Heiko Maas wrote in an op-ed for German newspaper Die Welt published Sunday.
“To achieve this, the EU budget for the next seven years must become a genuine revitalization program for Europe. So let us rethink it and invest massively in the future now — in research, climate protection, technological sovereignty and crisis-proof health and social systems,” he wrote.
Germany’s presidency of the Council of the EU — starting on July 1 — will be a “corona presidency,” Maas said, echoing the phrasing of a diplomatic note from Germany’s ambassador to the EU earlier this week, in which ambassador Michael Clauß warned that Berlin would have to readjust the goals of its presidency in light of the pandemic.
Maas also wrote that the EU “must correct mistakes” exposed by the crisis.
“I am thinking above all of the restrictions on democracy and the rule of law under the guise of fighting corona, which are unacceptable in Europe,” he wrote, in a veiled reference to controversial emergency measures passed in Hungary that allow Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to rule by decree.
The next EU budget must give Brussels financial leverage against such steps, Maas argued: “Anyone who undermines the European Union’s foundation of values should not expect to benefit fully from the union’s financial advantages.”
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