Ahead of the European Council this afternoon, the leader of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament Iratxe García said:
"This is a crucial summit for the future of Europe. I am glad that there is a political deal with the United Kingdom for an orderly Brexit, because this can only benefit citizens both in the EU and in the United Kingdom. It looks like things are moving in the right direction, but there is still some way to go. We need time to study the technical details, and any deal reached by the negotiators must be backed first by the British Parliament and then by the European Parliament.
"The Parliament also has a strong message to the heads of State and Government regarding the budget. While we are still discussing the composition of the new European Commission, we have already established important priorities to which the commissioners-designate have committed themselves, and the main one is a just transition through a New Green Deal. We must make sure that there are enough funds to accomplish the necessary reforms and this requires more money. The Sustainable Investment Plan cannot be funded at the expense of two core pillars of the EU such as the agriculture and the cohesion policies.
"The Parliament has been trying to engage in negotiations for a year. We need to start as soon as possible, but one thing should be clear: this House will not accept anything less than the 1,3% GNI that was already adopted by the Parliament in November 2018. And we will not give our consent to the next Multiannual Financial Framework without an agreement on the reform of the EU own resources system. We cannot do more with less, and the EU treaties offer the possibility of increasing the own resources. It is time to use it!
"Since the negotiations are taking so long, my Group also insist on having a safety net to protect the beneficiaries of EU programmes. We must set up an MFF contingency plan in case negotiations cannot be finalised successfully by the end of the current budget period or we will send a very wrong signal to Europeans. Europe cannot stop because the institutions are too slow.
"I also regret strongly the blockage to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. They have complied with the reforms that were requested and it is now the turn of the Union to show that also Albanians and North Macedonians have a place in the EU. I hope that other European leaders in the Council will convince Emmanuel Macron to change his mind."
Note to the editors:
Iratxe García will be attending the PES Leaders Meeting starting today at 12:30h at Brussel's Albert Hall, aimed at preparing the European Council taking place today and tomorrow