Health For Europe, research, climate and health are expendable

For Europe, research, climate and health are expendable

A rain of billions on Europe, trains loaded with gold bound for Rome. There are 750 billion to invest for the 27 countries of the Union, even 209 billion for Italy, divided into 82 of grants and 127 of loans. I put aside for a moment the obstacles that still remain, from the judgment of the European Parliament to the votes of the national parliaments. I limit myself to a message that has passed. Because if it’s called Old Continent there will be a reason. So here to agree 27 leaders, but above all two sides – the blockade of the 22 and the 5 “frugal” rebels – after 92 hours of negotiating marathon it was necessary to scissor here and there what apparently was considered expendable: research, climate , health.

Yes, because compared to the starting blocks of the negotiations, the total volumes of the two economic interventions remain unchanged: 1.074 billion for the multi-year financial framework and 750 billion for the Recovery Fund. Within the numbers, however, the differences are substantial. To make ends meet and above all to keep the table open, the President of the European Council Charles Michel hit our head for four days and four nights: in the end he left the amount of the Recovery Fund intact, but he redistributed it differently. The subsidies went down from 500 to 390 billion – victory of the frugal, capable of violating even the psychological threshold of quota 400 long defended by the big names of the deal, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, in addition to the Italy of Giuseppe Conte. Loans, on the other hand, increased from 250 to 360 billion euros. The beneficiary states will have to start repaying the sums by the end of the next seven-year EU budget, then by 2027.

The change in strategy is mainly affected by the recovery funds destined for EU programs, evidently less appreciated by the leaders than the money to be allocated to national reforms. The funds for the Horizon Europe Community programs on scientific research are cut – in a few days from 13.5 to 5 billion – those of InvestEU on strategic investments – reduced from 30.3 to 5.6 billion – those of the Just Transition Fund on climate – from 30 to 10 billion, Greta Thunberg’s appeal to the leaders fell on deaf ears – and even the Eu4Health health program – initially financed with 7.7 billion – in the year of Covid was canceled.

There is something wrong with even European funding for scientific research. “This is not frugal, it’s stupid,” tweets the president of the Berlin Hertie School of governance, Hertie Enderlein.

And if for Enrico Letta this is a “super Whatever it takes” – and for heaven’s sake, it is that he will also retrace the success of Mario Draghi’s strategy in terms of effectiveness – the message that arrives from Brussels is bad: on research, climate and health can be saved. Also because if we expect the nation states to allocate the doubloons that are distributed on these three fundamental voices for a profound (and already particularly underfunded) change, the fear is that they will be disappointed. It is not their disappointment that worries, but rather the poor vision of a deeply Old Continent.

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