The meeting of the heads of state and government of the European Union has once again highlighted the fact that the model of European integration is past its sell-by date – a model that does not offer a clear and rapid response to the needs of millions of people who are today suffering the direct consequences of the crisis caused by the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Faced with this ineffectiveness on the part of the EU, the Party of the European Left is emphasising the need to protect the population, both economically and socially, with a particular focus on protecting the thousands of workers who are losing their jobs and their incomes; to this end, and as an immediate action, we are calling for more investment in public services with a fair fiscal policy, which is very necessary for creating welfare systems that are capable of dealing with a crisis like this one.
Furthermore, we believe that the ECB must finance a European investment plan, capable of kick-starting employment and guaranteeing a change in the environmental and social model of production and the economy. At the same time, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which represents an unnecessary and harmful way of intervening in the public budgets of the various European countries, should be abolished.
Arising out of these immediate measures we propose the approval of a genuine Reconstruction Plan for Europe which involves diversification of the EU’s international relations and the development of models of socially advanced countries, and which envisages the following measures:
– Approval of an economic rescue plan for workers and their families. In the event of loss of income, financial compensation is required. Those who are unable to do so should not have to pay rent or mortgages. We oppose any attempt to worsen working conditions, such as the suspension of collective agreements and the limitation of workers’ rights.
– Presentation of emergency actions not only for large companies, but in particular for small and medium-sized businesses and self-employed workers and the population. This is not just a task for Europe but for the whole world. The countries in the global South need financial support to protect their populations and to improve their healthcare systems.
– Measures which allocate special resources for public health systems and which increase production capacity for equipment required by the health services.
– Involve both the ECB and the national banks in covering the immediate needs to pay for protection which will boost spending on social services, health, etc. The ECB’s money should be used to help people to escape from this emergency and combat the consequences of the crisis, and not to maintain the rate of return on capital. We demand the immediate creation of a European Health Fund financed by the ECB with 100-year bonds that are not negotiable on the markets.
– Promote Economic Reconstruction Plans at all levels, from national to European, which aim to develop sustainable industrialisation processes, with the participation of the public sector, promoting public R&D&I.
– Financing the increase in social spending requires a policy of fiscal justice which proposes a new collection model that taxes large sources of capital and wealth and ends tax havens inside and outside the EU.
– Defence of democracy against attempts to take advantage of the emergency situation in order to limit public freedoms and suspend democratic institutions.
– Initiate a humanitarian response to the situation of millions of human beings around the world who have to abandon their homes, escaping from misery, hunger, disease and war, and who will now see their situation worsen.
– Initiate a Plan of Measures to address the ecological challenges posed by climate change, encouraging a “just transition” promoted by the ITUC which combines ecological transition with social protection.
Finally, the European Left firmly rejects any attempt to use the coronavirus pandemic for xenophobic nationalist demagoguery. The world must remain united at this time and the key to overcoming the crisis is international solidarity. There is a particular need to increase solidarity with the peoples of the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America, who are in much greater danger of being severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Statement from the Party of the European Left 27th April 2020
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