The pandemic it has already caused irreparable pain in thousands of families. Millions are confined to their homes, fearing for their health and their future. The virus attacks the economic and social pillars of the Union, already weakened before the crisis. An institutional impasse, or an insufficient political response, will jeopardize not only economic prosperity and social welfare in Europe, but also the European project itself. Either the EU can play a decisive role in people's lives when they need it most, or it risks losing its meaning and its democratic support base.
Exceptional situations, demand exceptional solutions. Solutions that combine the efforts of people, communities, countries and also the EU. European socialists have been pressuring European institutions to accelerate concrete measures and to create new instruments. It was for this purpose that we sent European leaders an action plan to deal with the crisis.
The first priority of this plan is to ensure a coordinated supply of resources to health professionals and researchers, so that it is possible to win the fight on the ground and find a vaccine. The lack of solidarity in access to masks, ventilators and medicines has highlighted the immediate need for enhanced European cooperation to guarantee supplies in all countries, and concerted action to combat the pandemic.
The Civil Protection Mechanism must be activated for the purchase of material or for the repatriation of European citizens in third countries. The powers, budget and human resources of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control must be increased to coordinate medical advice to each Member State, in collaboration with international partners.
In addition to the liquidity injection announced by the European Central Bank, From EUR 37 billion that the Commission has made available and measures of economic stimulus adopted by the Eurogroup, other instruments have to be mobilized. We welcome the suspension in fact budgetary rules and we will do everything to avoid repeating the same mistakes of the 2008 crisis.
It is necessary to shape a common European treasure with the function of macroeconomic stabilization, and to proceed immediately with the issue of “Corona Bonds”. The mutualisation of debt is something that has been lacking in the consolidation of the euro area. This is the time to move forward. No country can be left to its own devices or subject to the risk of future bailouts.
The money has to reach the real economy. The situation of confinement is already having a strong impact on household income and forecasts point to a brutal increase in the number of people in poverty or at risk of poverty. We propose the introduction of a European minimum income during the crisis. This measure will also help companies to keep jobs and recover production as soon as possible, especially in the sectors most affected in the short term, such as tourism and transport.
National budgets, already pressed to the limit in the fight against the pandemic, will find it difficult to support the expected increase in unemployment rates. We propose the introduction of a “European unemployment insurance”. This proposal is, moreover, included in the current work program of the European Commission and was one of the red lines of the Socialists and Democrats to make this college viable. In the absence of budgetary capacity with a stabilizing function in the short term, this measure will constitute European solidarity co-financing of unemployment benefit, preventing countries from being forced to choose between fighting the pandemic or responding to the social emergency.
With the necessary confinement to contain the virus transmission chains, access to a quality internet has become even more important, to work from home, to access useful information, to interact with family and friends, to study or to enjoy essential goods and services. All those who for economic, technical or literacy reasons do not have access to the networks are subject to double exclusion. We advocate an acceleration of European digital transition programs, with particular emphasis on the quality of content and inclusion.
We must act now. Saving lives and relaunching Europe is fundamental to uniting Europeans, in the name of a solid response to the pandemic and confidence in a better future.
The authors write according to the new orthographic agreement