Home » Politics » EU panic: Brussels urged to send €1000 cheque to bloc’s citizens – MEP hits out
EU panic: Brussels urged to send €1000 cheque to bloc’s citizens – MEP hits out
March 29, 2021
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The Portuguese politician praised the European Commission’s proposal for an “ambitious” €750 billion recovery fund to be distributed to the EU27. But as the bloc lags behind the UK and the US’s economic recovery, Mr Marques blasted the bureaucratic delays of the EU’s financial support.
The Portuguese MEP said, in comparison, the US “has pulled far ahead” with President Joe Biden’s stimulus package.
He wrote in Politico: “While the EU is still figuring out how to unlock the agreed-upon money so that it can finally be disbursed, Washington has pulled far ahead.”
The MEP admitted the federal nature of the United States allowed for a faster rollout of funds that a bloc such as the EU would inevitably struggle with.
And he lambasted Brussels’ reluctance to consider direct payments to European citizens to speed up the process.
Mr Marques said, much like as has happened in the US, a so-called stimulus cheque paid directly to European’s citizens would be a significant boost to the economy of member states.
He said: “The EU needs to deploy more resources on the ground right now and not just in the long run. As the vaccine rollout gathers steam and we ease out of lockdowns, we must ensure that companies retain jobs and continue to have customers, particularly once government-supported lay-off schemes cease.
“That means we need a strong stimulus package that energises the economy immediately.
“The EU must send a strong signal to national governments that they should continue with support for their economies and make sure EU money reaches its intended destination in a matter of months, not years.
“But there’s an even better way to make sure the recovery funds provide the stimulus that is needed: Use the months it will take to approve the national recovery plans to find a way to pay €1,000 to every unemployed person, elderly person and parent.
“The direct payments won’t be a silver bullet, but they would provide the economy with a much-needed shot in the arm — that is, if the EU is able to overcomes its taboo. And why shouldn’t it?
“The bloc made history last year with its landmark recovery deal. Surely, it can do so again on this smaller, but just as crucial way.”
The Commission has come under fire in the past few weeks over its mishandling of the vaccination strategy and most recently over its bitter row with jab producers AstraZeneca and the UK Government.
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Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has repeatedly threatened Britain with a ban on vaccine exports.
On Saturday, The Times reported the UK was close to striking a vaccine deal with the EU that would have removed the threat of the bloc cutting off supplies.
Under the agreement the EU will remove its threat to ban the export of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to Britain, it added.
In return, the British government will agree to forgo some long-term supplies of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that had been due to be exported from a factory in Holland run by AstraZeneca’s subcontractor Halix, the newspaper reported.
An EU source had previously said that the EU has no intention of sharing with Britain the vaccine substance from Halix, which is estimated to have already produced enough for about 15-20 million doses, and can produce the equivalent of 5 million shots per month.
The British government, Pfizer-BioNTech, and AstraZeneca were not immediately available for comment.
The EU’s rebuff follows Britain’s repeated refusal to share with Brussels AstraZeneca doses produced at two factories in the UK.
On Friday, the European Medicines Agency approved the Halix production site in the Netherlands that makes the AstraZeneca vaccine and a facility in Marburg in Germany producing BioNTech/Pfizer shots.