Can Europe “Build Back Better”? The European Union has called its economic recovery plan #NextGenerationEU, representing the bloc’s largest ever stimulus package at more than €800 billion in spending. The plan’s stated aims are to make post-COVID Europe greener, more digital, and more resilient. Will it be able to achieve those goals?
This was one of the topics that came up during our 100 European Voices focus groups with young people from across the EU. Young people felt there was not enough clarity about how the money would actually be spent, and told us it was important there was transparency, clear goals, and the way success is defined should move away from pure GDP growth to include sustainability and social wellbeing.
To get a policymaker perspective, we put this question to members of the European Parliament from all political groups. Expand the cards below to find out what politicians think of the EU’s response to the pandemic:
I think the recovery plan is a useful instrument; we have to exit this crisis together and stronger. And we have to invest in, especially, our European priorities and digitalization and the digital transition, that’s a major step.
I think it could have been even more European, meaning there could have been even more money for European programs, and not only distributing to the different Member States, but I think it’s a good step, but it has to be spent in the right way. So, we have to make sure that it really is spent on our priorities and it’s not going into the wrong channels or dark channels.
The EU is built not only on solidarity, but also on responsibility. That means: using the tax payer’s money wisely. These funds -a formidable sum- should be used for structural changes and investments, not for funding current budget deficits. Funds should be directed to real needs that resulted from the pandemic. The conditions for receiving EU-funds should be closely monitored and maintained. Real and tight control mechanisms need to avoid fraudulent use.
Curious to know more about Europe’s recovery plan? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).
Interested in how the EU could recover from the pandemic as part of a green digital transition? Read Friends of Europe’s report, “Connected Europe: A digital brand for a just transition”, which presents the results of a year-long pan-European study supported by Vodafone. The report explores how policymakers and industry can work better together to boost Europe’s connectivity and foster a transformation that is both sustainable and fair, and one that builds resilient communities, societies and economies. All while ensuring that citizens are at the heart of the debate.
What do you think about Europe’s Recovery Plan? Do you believe the EU will be able to “Build Back Better”? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!