The European Union (EU) is a community of 27 countries with a population of 447 million people and, despite all its differences, a large economic and monetary union. This community offers many (trade) advantages to individual countries (and their households and businesses) through the abolition of customs borders and the harmonisation of legal regulations. But it also requires the member states to commit themselves to cultivate this community and to implement the decisions.
In the days from 17 to 21 July 2020, the special meeting of the European Council with all heads of state and government, the Corona reconstruction fund "Next Generation EU" was decided, virtually modifying the EU's financial constitution. The EU and its finances move a bit further away from the confederation on a scale between the confederation and the federal state as the two extreme points. With the approval of the German Bundestag and the Bundesrat on 25 and 26 March 2021, the new EU financing system until 2027 is recognised; until then, the Multiannual Financial Framework linked to the Next Generation EU programme will apply. The reconstruction fund will change the nature of financial relations. With the decisions on the reconstruction package and the EU-budget, the international community is breaking completely new ground. Now that national ratification has been completed, the EU can start providing funding for recovery and resilience. It is the EU's instrument for economic recovery after the COVID pandemic. The funds are raised not only through the traditional revenues of the 27 countries, such as contributions from the Member States, but for the first time through borrowing by the EU itself.
As a first step, the funds will be made available through credits and grants. In view of their economic situation, Italy and Spain will receive the largest share of the distribution of funds. With the decision of the European Council, the multiannual financial framework from 2021 to 2027 and the extraordinary reconstruction package adopted as the "next generation EU" have virtually created a new financial constitution. With a reconstruction package of 750 billion euros, the EU is facing major new tasks, such as the Corona crisis, climate change, digitalization, migration policy, etc. and is well positioned to meet these challenges effectively. The efficient use of funds is to be ensured by an audit of the European Court of Auditors.
On the revenue side, the decisions to finance the reconstruction package have changed the situation. The borrowing by the EU Commission points to a step towards a fiscal union, insofar as it is not the individual state but the EU as a whole that is liable for the debts incurred. The level of public debt is a point of contention. Behind the EU are the 27 individual states, and these are liable according to their contributions, which in turn are based on economic strength. Germany would have the largest single item, but probably also has the greatest benefits from the single market. The repayment is planned until 2058 and should be ensured by a positive growth development. In view of this long period of repayment and the associated change in governments or legislative periods, a development towards a "solidarity union" cannot be ruled out and a repayment of the debt with a tax-like levy is possible, perhaps even necessary.