On Thursday, the European Parliament will vote on the European regulation on the REPowerEU chapters in recovery and resilience plans. We call on the MEPs to ensure by their vote that RepowerEU, the energy crisis and the war in Ukraine will not be used by member states as a pretext to abandon the reforms promised in the national recovery and resilience plans.
We ask the Romanian MEPs, especially those from the S&D (PSD) – the rapporteur Dan Nica, Victor Negrescu, Carmen Avram, who proposed and supported in the specialized committees of the European Parliament amendments to weaken the reforms, and those from the EPP (PNL), rapporteur Siegfried Mureșan, who abstained from voting, not to show once again that Romania is the problematic member in the EU. We risk once again, just before the decision on Schengen accession, to prove that Romania is represented by anti-reformists, this time going so far as to endanger the reforms in all member states, not just in ours. Certainly, no one in Europe – in the European Commission, in the European Parliament, in the governments of the member states – will forget who proposed the weakening of the reforms to be delivered by 2026, when the financing mechanism for recovery and resilience ends.
The text proposed by the specialized committees of the European Parliament, which will be discussed tomorrow, includes a problematic amendment, pushed by the Romanian MEPs from the PSD, which essentially says: if in the national recovery and resilience programs there are measures that are in general affected by the current context, they may be renegotiated, without specifying any limit for such renegotiations. The biggest stake is that “measures” mean not only investments, but also reforms. And the reforms are not only those proposed in RepowerEU, as some Romanian MEPs have publicly argued, but the reforms in the remaining parts of the NRRPs, if a pretext can be found somehow related to the crisis in Ukraine or a contradiction with the REPowerEU. Even if the proposal to renegotiate a reform could be rejected by the Commission, there will be endless pressure on the Commission and, consequently, major delays in reforms and investment in almost every national recovery and resilience plan.
In other words, for example, if a member state starts complaining that the pension reform would conflict with RepowerEU’s goal of providing affordable energy for consumers, it can start an endless discussion with the European Commission that the pension reform should be postponed. If a member state wants to postpone the reform of state companies, with the pretext that now, with the energy crisis, it is not the right time to appoint competent and responsible people to manage energy companies, it can again put pressure on the European Commission to obtain an exemption. This will not only be the case of Romania, but of any member state that committed to reforms and now wants to stop meeting those commitments. In general, the reforms proposed in the national recovery and resilience programs consist of difficult, good governance reforms, which the states committed to precisely because the EU money was conditioned on such reforms, otherwise such reforms would not have been pursued. If the text remains as it is, without clarifications that leave no room for interpretations, the European Commission will be overwhelmed by requests to reopen discussions on reforms from every member state which does not want to implement its commitments. Every single measure concerning good governance, especially those that problematic states do not want, can be invoked as grounds for renegotiation on any possible spurious grounds. Without clear limits on which discussions on reforms can be reopened, one opens Pandora’s box, and this can affect the implementation of national reform and resilience plans – including delays in the other reforms in the current plans or delays in absorbing the money.
We call on MEPs from all political groups to reject the current wording and ensure that the final text specifies clear limits on the possibility to renegotiate reforms, just as in the original wording proposed by the European Commission, so that anti-reformers in Romania or elsewhere in the EU have no chance to break their promises and derail the use of the recovery and resilience fund.