The European People’s Party (EPP) is already in the middle of its election campaign and is not stopping at targeting development policy, said leading MEP Udo Bullmann, in an interview with EURACTIV, adding that “basic ideological blockades” are being drawn up.
The EPP has recently taken a more aggressive stance on major legislative proposals. From immigration policy to the European Green Deal and Tuesday’s blocking of the Nature Restoration Law, the EPP is increasingly going on the offensive.
This political trench warfare is “pushed in particular by the German conservatives”, said Bullmann, adding that it is “about control over the election campaign” narrative.
The fact that the election campaign is starting “much earlier than usual” is already directly impacting work in parliamentary committees, said Bullmann, who also serves as Socialist S&D coordinator on the Development Committee and as chair of the Human Rights Committee.
As rapporteur for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, Bullmann has also experienced these actions himself. For example, there was “especially among the German conservatives [the approach of] not wanting to sign very specific points [in the report], but rather wanting to destroy them.”
For Bullmann, the EPP’s goal is clear: “These are the basic ideological blockades that the conservative side is trying to introduce into the debates on progress at the moment. There is an intention to prevent the European Union from taking the international lead in this transformative process” of the Sustainable Development Goals.
France has a different political style
As Coordinator of the Development Committee, Bullmann is also critical of the success of efforts around the reforms of international development aid.
Last week, the French president had invited to a world summit on finance and climate at which such a “fundamental reform” was to be launched.
The results, however, were extremely modest.
“There was only the announcement ‘We are doing something big’. I find it difficult to take this at face value in every case. There is a lot of orchestration,” Bullmann said. He also drew a clear line between Germany and France as the latter tends to orchestrate, which is why such announcements are often not taken seriously in the former.
“Macron has a different political style than that in Germany,” Bullmann said. “Macron and also French politics react to the realisation of crises with quick, big announcements. That is not the Berlin style. It is certainly not the style of Olaf Scholz.”
Mixed feelings about EU development policy
Bullmann, who negotiated the EU chapter in the German coalition agreement for the SPD, also has mixed feelings about the Commission’s development policy.
In particular, the Commission’s flagship, the major funding project Global Gateway, with which it wants to stand up to China’s Silk Road, is so far “only a project in the making”, Bullmann explains.
Although the EU announced in February last year that it wanted to mobilise around €300 billion through the Global Gateway Initiative, a budget of only €750 million has been set for this year.
So far, “one cannot yet speak of a clear character of Global Gateway”, said Bullmann. This is because there is no master plan at the beginning, but rather a “very highly complex, instrumental process”.
Nevertheless, there are some bright spots in the EU’s development policy. For example, the EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpailainen, presented the Inequality Marker on Friday, which the social democratic S&D, in particular, had been “working towards for a long, long time”.
With the Inequality Marker, the EU is trying to make its development cooperation more effective by subjecting all processes to a thorough review of their impact.
Now we are no longer “just talking about a certain volume of money, but also about how it is spent,” Bullmann said.
(Kjeld Neubert | EURACTIV.de)
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