Brussels, Europe / 29 April, 2020
"Not one, not two, not three but four meetings of endless negotiations have been needed for the European Council (EUCO) to agree on a starting point for a recovery package for Europe in times of COVID-19. Even if these measures are very welcome, European leaders certainly know that this is not enough”, says Leonie Martin, President of JEF Europe. "Like in previous crises, intergovernmental institutions do not deliver on time. We need to state it once more: the sum of national interests does not coincide with European citizens’ one. The Council and EUCO should look more at the work carried out by supranational institutions, such as the European Central Bank, the European Parliament and the European Commission, to fully live up to the principle of solidarity when most need”, continues Martin.
The EUCO met on April 23rd. It finally greenlit measures that were proposed on April 9th during the Eurogroup meeting, meaning a package that sets up €540 billion in funds for Member States, companies and workers. However, the details of the recovery fund were not agreed upon. Instead, the European Council asked the European Commission to present a proposal linked to the next Multiannual Financial Framework, in order to relaunch the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic. The European Commission is expected to present its proposal on May 6th, a few days ahead of the 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration.
“We are glad to see that after the last meeting, the European Council took the right path, at least recognising that no Member State can save itself on its own. Now heads of state need to choose Europe, wholeheartedly and without reservations. Listen to citizens, to experts and to politicians before it’s too late: the European project is in danger. Do not further fuel nationalism all across Europe because you cannot agree on a meaningful recovery fund that is urgently needed. All European institutions that are supranational have already done their job to increase and push for much needed pan-European solidarity but this is still not enough considering the limitations of the current institutional setup”, says Martin.
“Citizens in Europe are doing their best under tough restrictions to tackle COVID-19, and in clear solidarity towards their societies. Respect their efforts by reaching a meaningful agreement as soon as possible, meaning setting a EU budget at least 1.3% of European GDP, as already requested by the European Parliament, increasing its financial independence with the extension of its own resources”, demands Martin.
“Let’s also talk about the elephant in the room: the General Affairs Council on May 12th needs to move forward and decide on an efficient and decisive Conference on the Future of Europe. Amongst other urgent issues, the past weeks have highlighted that the Economic and Monetary Union needs to be completed. I recall our support for Eurobonds as a debt security issued by the EU and backed by the EU budget as an essential element of such completion and a necessary step towards a European Fiscal Union”, summarizes Martin.
The Young European Federalists adopted an urgent resolution in the latest Federal Committee meeting, held on April 4th to 5th, calling for a EU coordinated response to tackle the COVID-19 health emergency. Among our proposals we call on the European Council:
- To agree on issuing European bonds in the form of joint debt issuance, through Treaty change if necessary, managed by the European Commission and guaranteed by the EU budget, that could be used initially to finance a pan-European plan of economic recovery and social cohesion following the pandemic, as well as to finance the Green Deal and the European response to the digital transition, and to meet the United Nations Sustainable Goals, which require huge investments to radically transform the European economy and society;
- To facilitate the adoption of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021 - 2027, in a way that the Union can deal with the crisis, i.e. consisting of at least 1.3% of European GDP, as requested by the European Parliament, extending the budget with its own resources, as suggested in the JEF resolution on the Multiannual Financial Framework, re-adopted on April 5th, 2020, as well as its other resolutions.
As of April 24th, the European institutions have taken measures to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Here some of them:
- The European Central Bank decided to increase the pace of asset purchases from the public and private sector to a total of 1.14 trillion euros for 2020, and the diversification of purchases under the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP).
- The “European Commission proposed the “Corona Response Investment Initiative” which aims to channel €37 billion from available EU funds as soon as possible to those most hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The extension of the EU Solidarity Fund was tabled by the European Commission to cover public health emergencies that will make up to €800 million.
- The €100 billion solidarity instrument called SURE was again an initiative by the European Commission guaranteed by all Member States to keep people in jobs and businesses running.
- The Eurogroup decided on April 9th a package that sets up €540 billion for: a) Member States via the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), b) companies through the European Investment Bank (EIB), and c) workers via the European Commission’s new instrument SURE.
- On April 17th, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on EU coordinated action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences. MEPs proposed that “the necessary investment would be financed by an increased MFF, b) the existing EU funds and financial instruments, and 3) recovery bonds guaranteed by the EU budget”.
About JEF Europe
The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe is a non-partisan youth NGO with 13.000 members active in more than 30 countries. The organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy and subsidiarity as well as respect for human rights. JEF promotes true European Citizenship, and works towards more active participation of young people in democratic life. While the umbrella organisation JEF Europe was founded in 1972, its sections have been operating continuously since the end of the Second World War, making it the oldest pro-European and only federalist youth organisation.
President, Young European Federalists