EU must strengthen support for citizens and businesses and help for Ukraine

Pixabay: SofiLaylaPixabay: SofiLayla
  • Existing EU funds need to be boosted by other means, such as profit tax for energy companies, and seizing Russian oligarch assets
  • Temporary EU social resilience package should be set up
  • New strategic autonomy fund could boost energy and food security   

MEPs call for funding to deal with the consequences of the war in Ukraine, by confiscating Russian oligarchs’ assets, new EU own resources, and using the existing EU budget fully.

Adopting a resolution on the economic and social consequences for the EU of Russia’s war in Ukraine by a show of hands, MEPs say that the war itself and the “justified sanctions against Russia and Belarus are affecting the post-pandemic economic recovery of the European Union and pose a serious threat to the EU’s recovery”.  These effects must be addressed “to help households and companies … and maintain citizens’ support for the actions taken against Russia and other actions to support Ukrainians”  The resolution winds up the plenary debate held on 4 of May in Strasbourg.

Effects of war cannot be covered by existing financial instruments

MEPs say existing instruments such as Next Generation EU, SURE (Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency) or the EU budget’s flexibility system are not enough to mitigate the negative effects of war and the cost on the EU of the sanctions imposed on Russia. They therefore call for a windfall profit tax for energy companies, for Russian oligarchs’ assets to be seized and confiscated, and additional flexibility in the EU budget. The multi-annual financial framework (MFF) should be revised , state aid rules applied more flexibly, the level of the EU guarantee in the InvestEU programme should be increased, and the Commission should be ready to propose new programmes if it becomes necessary, they say. MEPs also call on the EU to lead in setting up a Ukraine Solidarity Trust Fund.

Helping people and businesses get through the hard times

The war has particularly exacerbated the energy price crisis, which has negatively affected purchasing power and operating costs, MEPs stress.  The worsening of this crisis requires rapid intervention, they say. Member states should increase their social support and additional spending should be allocated to vulnerable but viable firms.

MEPs also stress that wage growth should take into consideration long-term inflation and productivity growth in order to maintain households’ purchasing power. A temporary European social resilience package coordinating a set of measures and means to strengthen social welfare and social protection systems in the EU should also be set up, MEPs say.

Investing in autonomy

MEPs place a particular emphasis in developing the EU’s autonomy. To do this, they call for a new, dedicated European fund to be established. The Strategic Autonomy Fund for Europe would finance cross-border energy infrastructure, renewable energy production and efficiency, cybersecurity, industrial competitiveness, food security, the circular economy, and sustainable development.

Finally, MEPs note that former politicians such as Esko Aho, Francois Fillon and Wolfgang Schüssel have recently resigned from their positions in Russian firms and strongly demand that others, such as Karin Kneissl and Gerhard Schröder, do the same.