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Session Overview
Panel 112: Resourcing Recovery and Resilience: Legal, Budgetary and Policy Implications of the Post-COVID-19 Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027)
Monday, 06/Sept/2021:
9:30am - 11:00am

Session Chair: Paul Stephenson, Maastricht University
Discussant: Hartmut Aden, Berlin School of Economics and Law

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Resourcing Recovery and Resilience: Legal, Budgetary and Policy Implications of the Post-COVID-19 Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027)

Chair(s): Paul Stephenson (Maastricht University)

Discussant(s): Hartmut Aden (Hochschule für Wirtschaft und Recht Berlin)

The political compromise reached by the national leaders in July 2020 on the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework was welcomed as a major leap forward in the integration process. The MFF was adopted in a challenging context, with Brexit on the verge of completion and an ongoing pandemic that had brought to a halt citizens lives in all Member States and created existential threats from manifold perspectives. Once more, the EU stepped in to offer long trained skills in emergency crisis. Against this backdrop, long-standing boundaries to resourcing the EU were dismantled, in a way previously unknown as to its volume and reach. This panel brings together experts in EU finances to offer state-of-the-art, comprehensive and forward-looking reflection on the future implications (financial, budgetary, and constitutional) of the institutional design that, emerging from that European Council, was translated into legal acts and policy measures adopted ever since. This panel is presented by the EUFINACCO research network on Financial Accountability in the European Union.


Presentations of the Symposium


The legal engineering of the Recovery and Resilience Funds post-COVID-19: In complexity we thrive?

María-Luisa Sánchez-Barrueco
Deusto Law School

The COVID-19 pandemic represents the last case portraying the EU as emergency government. The budgetary package negotiated and agreed by national leaders in 2020 resulted in the most ambitious Multiannual Financial Framework to date, adopted under the most challenging circumstances. Member States and EU institutions stretched to the limit the boundaries of the principle of conferral, which ties EU's hands to the extent allowed by the scope of the powers granted in the Treaties. The subsequent adoption of several legal acts under varying legal bases raises questions as to the legal architecture of and interactions among the acts composing the flagship project labelled Next Generation EU. The financial package amalgamates in an innovative way policy-making modes earlier applied in the EU coordination of economic policies with those pertaining to the EU’s own budget implementation, while at the same time subjecting the whole project to manifold, ambitious –and potentially conflicting- objectives, most of them responding to priorities defined prior to the outbreak of the pandemic. This paper explores the way in which the EU’s post-COVID-19 recovery was architected, from the perspective of its legal engineering and institutional governance. It also critically analyses the complexity of Next Generation EU and showcases targeted aspects in which the project may is likely to struggle to live up to the expectations engendered by its promoters at the EU and national level.


A Package Deal for Reform of Own Resources and the EU Budget

Giacomo Benedetto
Royal Holloway, University London

In 2020, to finance the EU’s budget and the repayment of the post-Covid recovery package of €750bn, it was also agreed to raise the EU’s revenue base to a record high of 2 percent of Gross National Income until 2058. However, this Decision did little to change the composition of such revenue besides the introduction of a small levy on non-recycled plastic. Future reform of the EU budget so that it is more responsive to collective needs and able to finance the repayment of the recovery package after 2027 depends on changing the revenue base in the first place. This paper evaluates the ingredients of such a package. It does this by analysing what we know already of package deals in the EU. New forms of revenue could aim to tax economic sectors rather than geographical locations, while delivering policy in relation to challenges like climate change or transnational tax avoidance.


Failing Forward in Economic and Monetary Union: Explaining Weak Eurozone Financial Support Mechanisms

David Howarth1, Lucia Quaglia2
1Université de LuxembourgUniversity of Luxembourg, 2University of Bologna

In this article, we apply the ‘failing forward’ approach to analyse the negotiations on and design of reforms to Eurozone economic governance to tackle the Covid-19-related crisis of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). This crisis highlights both spill-overs from major asymmetries in EMU and weaknesses in the incomplete economic governance of the Eurozone. We focus in particular on the financial support mechanisms agreed after intergovernmental negotiations in major crisis situations. These reforms represent compromise solutions that reflect well-entrenched disagreements among member states. We explain why more far-reaching reforms to Eurozone economic governance — notably the adoption of mutualised euro-denominated debt, and the generalised use of grants over loans — have not been adopted, despite the severity of the Covid-19-related crisis. These reforms —notably the Next Generation European Union (NGEU) financial package adopted in July 2020 — fail to address existing asymmetries but rather contribute to them, thus sowing the seeds of future crises.


The constitutional implications of the Next Generation EU

Antonio-Martín Porras-Gómez
Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales

The 2021-2027 Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) and the European Union (EU) Next Generation funds have brought about a clear disruption in the EU institutional equilibrium. The idea of this article is to analyze the constitutional implications of these recent transformations, and to infer those to come. From an empirical perspective, we describe the changes brought about with the 2021-2027 MFF and the Next Generation. The increase in financial size, the greater resort to financial guarantees and the budgetary flexibility will be given particular attention. From an explanatory perspective, we aim to elucidate how these changes affect the constitutional evolution of the EU. For that purpose, we discuss the empirical and theoretical importance of public finance in the history of constitutionalism. Then, we broach the constitutional implications of the new financial architecture, both from the expenditure and the income side. Regarding the expenditure, we will position the reforms with respect to the already existing paradoxes of the financial multi-level governance, such as the creation of inefficient control and accountability overlaps and gaps. From the income side, the constitutional arguments used for justifying the breach of art. 310 TFEU non-borrowing condition (especially, those which refer to art. 122 TFEU), will be discussed, as well as the implications for the territorial distribution of power (with a potential re-centralization of financial competences at national level). The new taxes and their impact in the integration process will be addressed from the perspective of the EU history as well as comparative federalism theory. Finally, we conclude summarizing the main research arguments.

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