Here Europe – Younous Omarjee: “We are launching a permanent quasi-Marshall plan at EU level”

Here, Europe looks at the economy of our regions this summer period. The poorest among them are greatly helped by European solidarity through the current budget and the Great Recovery Plan.

At the end of 2022, and for the very first time in history, the 27 agreed to go into debt together to revitalize, green and digitize their economies worth 800 billion euros.

A year and a half later, we take stock of this targeted aid with Younous Omarjee, the French President (LFI) of the European Development Committee of the European Parliament, who belongs to the Liberal Group (39 MEPs).

“I am very comfortable with these responsibilities,” says Younous Omarjee, “because the cohesion policy has a goal which is very virtuous: the goal of equality. The cohesion policy has mitigated the impact of the crisis considerably.

It is almost a permanent Marshall Plan at EU level” he compares. The chairman of the Committee for European Development returns to the Covid-19 episode: “During the pandemic, some of our companies were threatened with closure. And we have taken emergency measures to support, for example, partial unemployment.

We made our contribution to saving lives because, remember, the regions, including the French regions, had difficulty buying masks. To buy artificial respirators, we put a plan on the table to help them,” recalls Younous Omarjee.

“This recovery plan has not been used by all countries, and I think it should make us question it anyway,” he believes. “In any case, it shows that when you put money on the table, when you open the floodgates a little, you can achieve the goals you have set for yourself in terms of growth and jobs, and that should be done by all those who want us to return to the seams in the rules of budgetary orthodoxy thinking.

The regions and European solidarity

Younous Omarjee, originally from Reunion, an island with 870,000 inhabitants that benefits from 1.4 billion euros in structural funds, that is three times more than a country like Denmark, explains this difference: “The less developed region, and the more we enjoy the solidarity. of the European Union. This is a very positive side of the EU.

And on the island of Reunion I pointed out that the people of Reunion must be aware that they are supported more than countries that have millions and millions of inhabitants. But the reality is that we are still far behind the level of convergence we want to achieve. And that is the purpose of cohesion policy: to compensate for delays, to reduce ruptures,” he recalls.

The issue of fishing

Does this island origin push him to support fishermen at all costs? “I am the first here in the European Parliament to take up this fight for the defense of our sea, of the deep seabed, which has become veritable cemeteries with industrial fishing. But we must correct an injustice in the outermost regions”, he asserts.

“Because ninety-nine percent of the catches in the Indian Ocean are taken by large European and international industrial fleets, and it is not the small fishermen from Genforening who create the ecological suffering.

So what we asked the European Commission, which it accepted at the beginning, by the way, is to be able to modernize the artisanal fishermen’s small boats, and we choose to develop small-scale fishing, which will also contribute to regional development. We are in a situation today where we import fish from other places!” sorry Younous Omarjee.

Member States withdraw from their sovereign missions

Another problem associated with water is its access, whether you are in an island area or in the heart of Europe. “The population faces permanent water cuts and does not always have access to drinking water.

And when I went to Slovakia, I realized that the so-called marginalized communities, the Roma, faced the same situations. I think it’s a shame. It is a shame for France that the primary conditions for a dignified life in its overseas territories are not met” protests the president of the Regional Development Commission, although he recognizes the limits of regional management of European aid.

“The European Union’s investment through the Structural Funds is important, but the result is that we do not achieve the results for the European funds, that is, the goals we have set for development are not met.

“For what?” “When the Member State leaves investments in health, education, security, to its sovereign powers, how do you expect the European funds arriving for co-financing to achieve their results? The EU is making an effort towards – towards the regions in the outermost periphery and France must at the same time step up its efforts,” argues Younous Omarjee.

European elections in 2024

The MEP also spoke about the upcoming European Parliament elections and a potential alliance between his party France Insoumise and other political forces forming NUPES.

“I think this alliance makes sense. Faced with what the future European Parliament is likely to be, with a strengthened extreme right, and no doubt also with a new reactionary alliance between the EPP, ECR and the extreme right on certain ecological, social or feminist texts, for example, it is necessary to block this progress, which aims to put an end to progress.

We must give ourselves every opportunity to become stronger and be together,” he calls. “And believe, that if this agreement is not reached, I hope it will be, but if this agreement is not reached, we are fully prepared to go to war” concludes the LFI MEP.

Program prepared by Isabelle Romero, Sophie Samaille and Perrine Desplats

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