The Quote Finder
This article is largely based on the information gathered by the Quote Finder, a tool that we developed in order to easily monitor and browse the tweets published by all the members of the European Parliament, spotting trending keywords, influential actors, and more. The tool is freely available to everyone.
Following the presentation of the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2021-27 by the European commissioner for Budget, Günther Oettinger, members of the European Parliament focused their praise and criticism on key aspects such as cohesion funds, the Common Agricultural Policy and defence spending. Here’s where they stand
In most of the tweets by MEPs, the hashtag #Eubudget goes together with #FutureofEurope, pointing to the strong symbolic value of this MFF. In particular it could be seen as a new chapter in the neverending crisis of the EU after Brexit, or rather simply an acknowledgement of the resizing of the political project.
Common Agricultural Policy and cohesion funds are bound together in most of the tweets. Irish MEP Seán Kelly and EP vice-president Dimitrios Papadimoulis voiced demands for a greater focus on CAP and cohesion funds. A stronger claim was set forth by Irish MEP Liadh Ní Riada, defining the cuts to these two budget lines as “not acceptable” and voicing simultaneously her position against the increase in defence and military spending. A stronger take was aired by Romanian MEP and ECR group member Laurentiu Rebega: in his view “5% less for #Agriculture means consigning European producers to the grave. It also means less food for all of us.” S&D Maria João Rodrigues and Emilian Pavel envisage a fight for cohesion not to be sacrificed.
Concerning the budget for environmental issues, José Inácio Faria praised the increase by 50% to the LIFE program and the advances on the non-recyclable plastics tax, while Peter van Dalen expressed satisfaction for the mainstreaming of climate change. In the opposite direction goes the remark from S&D member Maria João Rodrigues, stressing how climate-change policies , territorial divergences and Sustainable Development Goals are far from being adequately reflected in the EU budget proposal.
As expected, there is substantial disagreement about the means to ensure external-borders control: while ECR member Bernd Kölmel warns that “10,000 Frontex officials alone cannot guarantee an integrated migration policy”, Petr Ježek (ALDE) notes the huge budget increases for external-border control. The increase in military spending also provoked strong criticism from Nikos Chountis .
Last but not least, the need to condition funding on respect of the rule of law has been voiced by both Guy Verhofstadt and Viviane Reding , among others.