In Austria, the Greens curb Kurz’s counter-plan on the recovery fund


The counter-proposal of Austria, Holland, Denmark and Sweden on the recovery fund is weaker than previously thought, when Chancellor Sebastian Kurz attacked the Franco-German plan on a 500 billion fund with common European bonds and disbursed with grants. According to Huffpost from European sources, the proposal of the four countries should not contain figures, therefore in essence it would not contest the size of the fund foreseen by Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, dimensions however still considered insufficient by the Italian premier Giuseppe Conte. The counter-proposal should contain only general principles, on the opportunity to use loans instead of subsidies and to link the disbursement of money to the adoption of structural reforms by the countries that request them.

But why would the document have weakened? There are more clues going in this direction. The first is that the counter-proposal has tripped over internal coalition government problems both in Austria, the leader of this attack on the Franco-German plan, and in Sweden. In both cases the stop came from the Greens, a majority partner with the Popular in Vienna and with the Socialists in Stockholm. No small problem, given that any proposal must still go through the national parliaments. And then there is also the fact that it is still a matter of going against Germany, a country that has chosen to mediate in Europe and abandoning the initial position alongside the northern states, the rigorists. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, to say, is not playing the lion’s share in this story, Kurz does. After all, Merkel had informed The Hague of the joint initiative between Berlin and Paris.

But meanwhile, internal problems matter. In Austria Kurz has to deal with the Greens – government allies after the crisis of the Popular government with the ultra-right Fpo last year – in favor of the recovery fund and measures to share the risks of the crisis with the weaker European States .

“The Austrian economy is closely intertwined with the neighboring countries of the south and east. Those who help Italy help Austria. If there are no investments in northern Italy, we will also have an increase in unemployment in Carinthia and Tyrol, “says Austrian Michel Reimon, European spokesman for the National Green Council.

Just today in Vienna, coalition negotiations are underway to seek an understanding after Kurz’s disputed move. “To get out of the covid crisis, Europe needs a quick investment program,” adds Austria’s Reimon. The idea of ​​the Greens is to amend the Franco-German plan with a greater focus on ecology and social issues. “Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron’s plan is a great first step, but it is not from an ecological and social point of view,” adds Reimon, inviting EU heads of state and government to “not block” the birth of the ‘recovery fund’ on which the European Commission will present its proposal next Wednesday. “We need courage and solidarity”, concludes the Austrian Green.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the European Greens have spoken out in favor of Eurobonds and other solidarity measures to deal with the economic crisis in coordinated ways between the EU countries. The German Greens were particularly exposed at home between late March and early April, when Merkel was still siding with the ‘frugal’ countries, so called because they were less generous with the European budget, the northern block strongly opposed to the common European debt instruments proposed from Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and other states with budgetary difficulties.

The choice of the German chancellor to jump to the other side of the fence, rediscover the thread of relations with Paris and propose a recovery fund with common bonds (not really Eurobonds) and subsidies instead of loans was not liked by the Nordic countries. But now Austria, Holland, Sweden and Denmark are struggling to organize their counter-move: they do not have the strength to fight together with Germany. It should be noted that the European Socialists have split on the issue. In Austria they attack Kurz because they are in the opposition. In Denmark and Sweden instead they are in government and are with Kurz.

In fact, at the moment, the counter-proposal to the Berlin and Paris plan on the ‘recovery fund’ appears weak, blocked by vetoes internal to national governments, that of the center-right with the Greens in Austria and that of the socialists with the Greens in Sweden. A picture that could give more breath to the requests of the southern countries. “500 billion euros is an excellent starting point – Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte says today – but I invited von der Leyen to be much more ambitious”.

Provided that the Franco-German plan is not reduced by the Commission’s proposal or by discussions between heads of state and government, at the next European Council. An agreement at 27 must always be found, unanimously. And among the critics, there are not only the ‘frugal’ of the north, but also the countries of Eastern Europe.

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