Opening statement at the European Parliament Plenary debate on the Structural Reform Support Programme 2017-2020: financial envelope and general objective
Strasbourg, 10 September 2018
Honourable Members of the European Parliament,
Structural reforms are crucial to modernise our economies, strengthen their performance and resilience, and foster real convergence within and across Member States.
The crisis has shown that, given the high level of integration of EU economies, reform efforts are a matter of common concern. Your vote tomorrow will be a signal that we stand by Member States in these efforts. And it will be an important step in finalising the package of proposals for deepening the Economic and Monetary Union.
Structural reforms not only create an environment that is conducive to investment, growth and job creation, they can also help EU economies withstand shocks, and contribute to economic and social cohesion.
That is why structural reforms are an important building block of a more resilient Economic and Monetary Union.
Since May 2017, we have been supporting the design and implementation of structural reforms in Member States through the Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP); this has proven its usefulness, judging from the number of requests from Member States, which significantly exceeded the current budget possibilities.
Indeed: the demand for support has far exceeded our expectations – last year, 16 Member States applied for an amount that was 4 times the budget of 2017; and this year, 24 Member States applied for an amount that was 5 times the available budget.
To respond to the growing demand from the Member States, we need to increase the funding.
At the same time, to strengthen the euro area, it will be beneficial to provide targeted support to those EU Member States wishing to adopt the euro in order to help them to prepare better and facilitate a smooth participation in the Economic and Monetary Union.
That is why on 6 December 2017, we proposed to increase the budget of the SRSP by EUR 80 million.
Throughout the legislative process, both the Parliament and the Council have shown a clear commitment to EU's support for structural reforms in EU Member States.
The compromise that we found is a good one – half of the increase of EUR 80 million will be funded by the Global Margin for Commitments, The other half will be funded through redeployed available funding from heading 2, not affecting the rural and development programmes, nor the technical assistance.
This means that we are fully respecting the commitment from the original SRSP Regulation to not provide further financing for the Programme at the expense of cohesion policy.
I want to thank the European Parliament – the rapporteur Ms Tomašić, the shadow rapporteurs and also the Committee Chair Ms Mihaylova, for their hard work, and for their constructive efforts during the Trilogue negotiations.
By endorsing the political agreement tomorrow, you will move Europe one step closer to a more integrated, more resilient and more cohesive Economic and Monetary Union.
A swift adoption of this file will also enable us to increase our support for reforms in Member States already next year.