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Spanish and Portuguese MEPs rail against suspension of ESIFs ahead of debate tonight

GUE/NGL MEPs have expressed their outrage at the Commission’s proposals to possibly suspend the European structural and investment funds (ESIFs) in Spain and Portugal ahead of a debate in Brussels tonight.

Ministers representing the Spanish and Portuguese governments are due to face MEPs from the Parliament’s Committee on Regional Development (REGI) and Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) in a structured dialogue.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Portuguese MEP and ECON member Miguel Viegas said:

“We are firmly against any economic governance or macroeconomic conditionality or any instrument that restricts national sovereignty and member states’ ability to put in practice alternative policies for their own individual development.”

“We have been unwavering in our opposition to sanctions or the suspension of the structural funds. A system that allows for the intolerable blackmail by the European institutions towards its own members and a system that continues the impoverishment of the Portuguese people is simply unworkable.”

“It's high time that we broke free from this straitjacket,” argued Viegas who will take to the floor during the debate tonight.

Also speaking will be Spanish MEP and ECON substitute Paloma López. She reserved her strongest criticisms for political parties in her home country for their role in the current predicament:

“The European governance framework was accepted and promoted by the same political parties that now claim they have no option but to obey Brussels. It is hypocritical to renounce all responsibilities over a process that national elites had supported against the interests of workers since the beginning”.

“We can’t accept the Spanish government's wish to yield to EU demands and accept further budgetary cuts in exchange for lifting the suspension on structural funds. More austerity will only lead to higher unemployment, poverty and inequality for the Spanish people”.

“We won’t be fooled by this charade by Brussels and Madrid. The EU institutions and Spain's conservative government are cut from the same cloth: privatising pensions; dismantling public services and abolishing labour rights. This is why we will never give up on our fight against austerity cuts,” said López.