During the Interparliamentary Conference on Stability, Economic Coordination and Governance in the European Union (SECG), representatives from national parliaments and the European Parliament, together with representatives from the European Commission and the Eurogroup, discussed current financial and economic issues. The meeting was co-chaired by Robert Polnar, the Chair of the National Assembly Committee on Finance, and Mateja Udovč, Chair of the National Assembly Committee on the Economy.
The participants were greeted by the President of the National Assembly Igor Zorčič who emphasised the importance of digitalisation, a central part of the new development strategy and the European Green Deal. In his opening remarks, Eurogroup President Paschal Donohoe emphasised the importance of sufficient funding for sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the EU and the need for prudent decisions and a coherent EU policy aimed at rebuilding and improving market efficiency.
The following speakers took to the floor as part of the first topic, which involved the presentation and exchange of views on financing the pandemic exit strategy, with an emphasis on new own resources and the digital services tax.
The Minister of Finance, Andrej Šircelj, pointed to the necessity of introducing new own resources, which are crucial for financing the NextGenerationEU instrument, and proposed they be regulated in a simple, transparent and fair manner. MEP and rapporteur José Manuel Fernandes presented the financial background of the EU’s borrowing to finance NextGenerationEU. Johannes Hahn, the European Commissioner for Budget and Administration, reaffirmed the Commission’s commitment to introducing new own resources to the EU budget. The Commission intends to present the package of proposals, which would make a significant contribution to the financing of the EU budget and the NextGenerationEU instrument and contribute to a sustainable and resilient European society, in October 2021. The Chair of the Committee on Finance, Robert Polnar, critically reflected on the EU’s past unsuccessful efforts to introduce a digital tax as a new own resource for financing the EU’s budget. He highlighted the issue of tax avoidance by large global digital corporations and the EU’s unsuccessful efforts in trying to tax them effectively and fairly.
The participants expressed support for establishing new own resources in the EU budget for the stable funding and the implementation of EU policies and objectives. They called on the Commission to take action and take into account the political will of the member states when deciding on new tax proposals, and called for a fair and efficient system of taxation for companies and multinationals in the digital age and for a fair distribution of funds between member states.
The keynote speakers for the second topic discussed the challenges and opportunities of European economic recovery and renewal, namely effectively channelling funds into the implementation of the NextGenerationEU instrument.
The State Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology Simon Zajc called for the effective implementation of already adopted recovery and resilience plans, financed through the NextGenerationEU instrument, and for responsible and transparent management of European funds, while the Chair of Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, Irene Tinagli, highlighted the European Parliament’s oversight role over the Commission’s work. Paolo Gentiloni, the European Commissioner for Economy, welcomed the EU’s economic recovery and the positive outlook for the future, stressing the Commission’s role in monitoring the consistent implementation of national plans and the rational use of NextGenerationEU funds. Mateja Udovč, Chair of the Committee on the Economy, hailed NextGenerationEU as a tool for urgent structural reforms for jump-starting the European economy, and highlighted the opportunities for the development of tourism in Europe and Slovenia. Andrej Černigoj, a member of the Committee on the Economy, called for the prudent use of European funds from this instrument for projects with the highest added value
During the discussion, a few representatives from member states presented their national plans for NextGenerationEU and described the instrument as an opportunity to achieve EU goals and policies aimed at future generations, especially when it comes to the digital and green transition and the European Pillar of Social Rights.