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Ireland Corona crisis: Bundestag supports EU crisis fund

23:47  28 may  2020
23:47  28 may  2020 Source:   sueddeutsche.de

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Mögliche Kehrtwende in der deutschen Europapolitik: Fast alle Bundestagfraktionen stimmen den EU-Krisenfonds zu. © dpa Possible turnaround in German European policy: Almost all parliamentary groups in the Bundestag agree to the EU crisis fund.

Except for the AfD, all parliamentary groups are in favor of the billion-dollar reconstruction aid from Brussels. But they do require improvements.

Bundestag supports EU crisis fund

A turnaround is emerging in German European politics. On Thursday, all parliamentary groups in the Bundestag, except for the AfD, fundamentally approved the Brussels plan, according to which the EU should borrow on a large scale for the first time because of the dramatic corona crisis and should mainly give this to Member States as grants. However, the deputies demanded improvements and safeguards. "We will accompany and support the program," said Union faction vice-president Andreas Jung (CDU). At the same time, the "Struck law" also applies to Brussels, according to which no legislative proposal leaves the Bundestag as it was introduced.

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EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented a 750 billion euro reconstruction fund on Wednesday; 500 billion euros are to be paid out as grants, the rest as loans. Von der Leyen described the corona pot as "a joint investment in our future". The funds are intended to eliminate economic weaknesses in some countries and to promote environmental protection, health care and digitization.

Parliaments play a key role in the reconstruction fund: all 27 have to agree. The Bundestag opened the debate directly on Thursday. The government factions of the Union and the SPD supported the plan. "You don't have to argue about whether," said Union budget expert Eckhardt Rehberg. An economically strong Europe was "in our very own interest". Around 60 percent of German exports went to Europe. SPD Europe expert Markus Töns emphasized that Europe needs the common fund "because we have a common economic area". There is a dispute about the amount and distribution of the money. Rehberg criticized that in addition to the grants, 250 billion euros in loans should also be granted. In view of the experience in Germany, it is not clear how much money can be invested quickly and meaningfully. Töns asked for a significantly larger corona pot.

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A strong "yes, but" came from the opposition. "My group naturally supports the reconstruction of Europe," said Fabio De Masi, left-wing group vice-president. There must also be requirements. "But why can't that be drying up tax havens?" Franziska Brantner, European Green Expert, called for the subsidies to be linked to the rule of law and democracy. Climate protection must be "the heart" of the fund. FDP parliamentary group leader Alexander Graf Lambsdorff called for a greater say. "The whole thing is so new that if Germany is to participate, the Bundestag must vote with a two-thirds majority."

Two of the three applicants for the CDU party chairmanship also signaled their approval. "If we had normal times, I would have said that this would not work," said Friedrich Merz on Deutschlandfunk. "But such an extraordinary situation, in which we are now in Europe, also requires extraordinary measures." The proposal is "a quantum leap". Norbert Röttgen welcomed the proposal "in principle", but calls for improvements. "It shouldn't be about distributing money," he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. A sustainable effect "can only be achieved if investments are made in clearly defined reform projects controlled by the Commission".

Corona reconstruction plan by Merkel and Macron: Four states submit counter-proposal

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Röttgen's criticism also relates to the fact that the states know in advance how much money they will get. In fact, the Commission's proposal specifies the maximum that the corona pot can pour out on them. On Thursday, the agency released the formula for allocating funds. The criteria are the population, economic output and the unemployment rate of the past five years. Poor states with many inhabitants and many unemployed receive more. Italy and Spain are therefore the biggest beneficiaries. The German economy was satisfied. Chief lobbyist Joachim Lang praised a "strong signal from Brussels".

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