'European values are not negotiable': EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn
After the Covid-19 pandemic took a serious chunk out of EU economies in 2020, the bloc is betting on massive public spending projects to haul them out of the crisis and into a brighter future. The whole package is known as "Next Generation EU". It's worth €800 million in total across the 27 member states and will be handed out as a mix of loans and grants. As well as rebooting the EU's economies, the aim is to achieve certain green and digital objectives, with a certain proportion of the money ring-fenced for each.
With the spotlight on Hungary in recent weeks over its treatment of LGBT+ people, EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn tells FRANCE 24 it's possible that the EU could make the transfer of some of this recovery money conditional on respect of European values, including non-discrimination against minorities: "Clearly we have to see if we are trying to apply the new conditionality mechanism – if this is the most appropriate measure... but it's absolutely clear that this is something which has to be corrected."
We also delve into other issues such as an expected plan by the EU for a carbon tax called the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. In a nutshell, this would put a levy on imports from foreign companies that aren't subject to the EU's higher carbon reduction targets. Hahn tells us that this could raise "a couple of single digit billions […] over the years".
After the EU member states' leaders agreed to borrow money on international markets by pooling their debt, the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said this could become "a permanent tool for EU states". Commissioner Hahn however told FRANCE 24 that it's "too early to predict how things might evolve" and that "even if it goes over many years, in its legal construction this is a one-off action."
Produced by Perrine Desplats, Isabelle Romero, Mathilde Bénézet and Céline Schmitt
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