Ahead of the European leaders' meeting on Thursday 23 April, Oliver Röpke, EESC Workers' group President urges them to act with solidarity and adopt swiftly the latest package of measures to tackle the dire socio-economic consequences of the coronavirus crisis. Solidarity is not just needed now, at the height of the corona crisis, but should be permanently built into the EU structures. People are dying!
This latest set of emergency measures will make money available to strengthen health systems and improve prevention in member states through the European Stability Mechanism; to support businesses through the European Investment Bank, and workers through the new instrument for temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE).
"We therefore call on the European leaders to promote social dialogue and collective bargaining in the response to the COVID-19 crisis as well as to ensure that the social partners are fully involved in the design and the implementation of the measures taken", Oliver Röpke added.
The EU leaders will also discuss about an exit and a longer-term strategic approach focused on a recovery strategy for the European Union, and the financing thereof.
Oliver Röpke said "it’s clear that the survival and future of the EU is at stake. The EU is well placed to deal with this crisis. Many national governments acted selfishly at first, stopping export of medical supplies to fellow Member States and closing borders without any coordination. Even now, when the strategy for recovery after the crisis is being crafted, several of the wealthiest Member States show their narrow-mindedness rather than their solidarity. And yet it would be a big mistake to be too dismissive of the EU.”
"It will be important to find an agreement on the European budget that takes into account the aforementioned priorities. However, it is clear that even a larger multi-annual financial framework (MFF) will not be enough to escape the severe emergency. That is why we propose a Recovery Fund, in addition to the MFF, as an extra tool to promote European resilience, to repair the social and health damages, to recover the European economy and restore the functioning of the internal market", he said.
“Therefore, we urgently need a common debt instrument such as “Corona-bonds” to be guaranteed by the EU. This is not a question of pooling EU member state debts, but rather of pooling the investment needed to revive the economy. Any state opposing this move is betraying the basic values, which are the very foundation of European integration”, Oliver Röpke warned.
Failure to agree a viable economic response would leave the EU at grave risk. The European democracy, economy and social cohesion are at stake.
It is also obvious that when we come out of the crisis, we cannot go back to business as usual, "that’s why, when this is all over, a huge redress is due". Europe needs a transformation strategy, "a strong, social, sustainable and inclusive recovery strategy". Oliver Röpke added.