PES European ministers: EU Council must outline ambitious political vision to protect Europeans

21/04/2020

GAC videoconference

Members of the PES GAC meeting by videoconference

Europe must take bold action to strengthen the national health sectors, to save people’s jobs and to ensure a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery, the Europe ministers from the PES family said today after a video conference.

The ministers described the COVID crisis as the worst in Europe since WWII, highlighting how important it is to have strong welfare states, well-funded public services as well as proper supply chains that allow for the movement of material, services and information.

The Chair of the meeting, German Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth said:

“COVID-19 triggered an unprecedented and immense effort to protect and care for our citizens’ lives throughout Europe. That was the right thing to do. Now we need to look further and ensure that our long-term reaction to the COVID-19 crisis will not further deepen inequalities between and within the Member States, help those most impacted by the pandemic and will be in line with our existing targets towards a carbon free Europe and a just digital transition.

“Our political family’s plan for this crisis has two clear priorities: to save lives and to save jobs. We will be working hard to avoid business bankruptcies and invest in SMEs and the real economy, to ensure that Member States have the fiscal space to build much needed and strong social support and protection systems.  We need to live up to this historic challenge to Europe’s welfare and be more ambitious than ever before.”

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“The scale of the measures that the EU will provide in response to the pandemic will shape the future of the European project. A strong and ambitious political vision by the European Council can prevent the potential wave of Euroscepticism in the COVID aftermath. The European citizens need to feel the support of the Union in their countries, their workplace, and their homes.”

The ministers welcomed the general escape clause of the Stability and Growth Pact, the European Unemployment re-insurance scheme (SURE) and the ‘Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative’ (CRII), which should particularly help those Member States most affected, the activation of the ESM credit line, and the actions taken by the European Central Bank as important first steps towards economic recovery from the COVID crisis. 

The ministers of European Affairs from the PES family agreed that falling short in mobilising resources against the COVID crisis would cause great long-term political damage to the European project.

Michael Roth added:

“The EU council on Thursday must show courage and vision and agree on a strong package of measures, without ideological barriers. Solidarity must be the guiding principle: solidarity within the member states and between member states. Any attempts of using this crisis to attack democracy must be condemned.”

 

The meeting was attended by:

  • Michael Roth, Chair, Minister of State for Europe, Germany
  • Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds, Malta
  • Hans Dahlgren, Minister for EU Affairs, Sweden
  • Juan González-Barba, State Secretary for European Affairs, Spain
  • Tytti Tuppurainen, Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering, Finland
  • Ana Paula Zacarias, Secretary of State for European Affairs, Portugal

  • Iratxe Garcia Perez MEP, President of the S&D Group, European Parliament
  • Pedro Marques MEP, S&D and PES Coordinator for the implementation of our progressive Commission Work Programme. S&D Group and PES

  • Frazer Clarke, Deputy Secretary General of the S&D Group, European Parliament
  • Maria Joao Rodrigues, Chair of the PES Financial and Economic Network, FEPS President PES
  • Yonnec Polet, Deputy Secretary General, PES