PES leaders: Europe needs a Recovery Plan to overcome the corona crisis

26/03/2020

PES President on the videoconference with PES leaders.

PES President on the videoconference with PES leaders.

The progressive political family today expresses its deep solidarity with everyone affected by the coronavirus and reaffirms its commitment to the joint fight to overcome COVID-19.

Europe needs a progressive Recovery Plan to respond to the first phase of the crisis and its deep and long-lasting consequences, leaders from PES member parties concluded during a videoconference this morning.

While meeting online, all leaders agreed that the most urgent issue is to provide all European countries with the needed medical supplies and equipment to fight the pandemic and to save people’s lives.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“The focus now is rightfully on controlling the pandemic and protecting lives. But in the short and medium term we must also address the socioeconomic fallout. A far-reaching Recovery Plan for workers and businesses is needed.

“In the longer term we need to think about our strategic choices. We cannot afford to revert to ‘business as usual’ and learn nothing. The Stability and Growth Pact suspension must continue for 2020 and beyond. To finance the recovery, the ‘whatever it takes’ approach must be maintained. Issuing eurobonds is the most sensible option to finance Europe’s long-term recovery strategy at a low cost.

“No longer can we undervalue and underinvest in our public services and health systems. They must be strong, for good times and bad.”

PES leaders discussed the need for stronger measures to save jobs and protect the economy. Member States are taking urgent action. The EU must also take all necessary steps to help citizens in need and ensure social cohesion. Financial assistance must ensure stability for industry and workers. 

Sergei Stanishev also outlined the urgent need for all countries to ensure the proper functioning of the so called ‘green corridors’, so supplies and goods can be transported across the countries, which is critical for keeping the economies alive.

The suspension of the European fiscal rules is a welcome move to give governments flexibility. But the EU must not repeat past mistakes. Member states, SMEs, and businesses will need to invest.  We reject any attempts to answer economic hardship with austerity - investment and fiscal flexibility must be strengthened.

Social protection must be provided for all workers, including platform workers, seasonal and migrant workers, and the self-employed. Unemployment benefits, paid sick leave and other entitlements must be accessible to all. To preserve jobs the private sector must receive help, particularly SMEs and the self-employed. This crisis underlines the need for a European Unemployment Reinsurance Fund, so everyone is part of the recovery.

The ECB must help economies grow with low interest rates. Financial liquidity is essential, and it must reach the real economy – families, workers and small businesses. The EIB and national investment banks must boost investments, and the Euro Area must secure the fiscal capacity needed to relaunch our economy. Existing financial assistance mechanisms must provide immediate support at low cost and without conditions.

The meeting was attended by*:

  • Sergei Stanishev, President of the PES                   
  • Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark  and leader of SD Denmark          
  • Paul Magnette, Leader of PS Belgium     
  • Conner Rousseau, Leader of sp.a Belgium            
  • Kornelia Ninova, Leader of BSP Bulgaria
  • Domagoj Hajdukovic, SDP Croatia            
  • Maria Vasiliadou, EDEK Cyprus 
  • Ondřej Veselý, CSSD Czech republic        
  • Indrek Saar, Leader of SDE Estonia          
  • Antti Rinne, Leader of SDP Finland          
  • Olivier Faure, Leader of PS France           
  • Norbert Walter-Borjans, Co-leader of SPD Germany       
  • Fofi Gennimata, Leader of PASOK Greece            
  • Bertalan Toth, Leader of MSZP Hungary
  • Andrea Orlando, PD Italy             
  • Emanuele Fiano, PD Italy             
  • Enzo Maraio, Secretary of PSI Italy
  • Lodewijk Asscher, Leader of PvdA Netherlands       
  • Jonas Gahr Store, Leader of DNA Norway
  • Robert Biedron, Lewica
  • Waldemar Witkowski, Leader of UP Poland          
  • Marcel Ciolacu, Leader of PSD Romania
  • Dejan Zidan, Leader of SD Slovenia         
  • Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of UK Labour Party
  • Edi Rama, Leader of PS Albania 
  • Zoran Zaev, Former Prime Minister of North Macedonia and Leader of SDUM North Macedonia 
  • Iratxe Garcia, President of the S&D                         
  • Zita Gurmai, President of PES Women                   
  • Maria Joao Rodrigues, President of FEPS                              
  • Christophe Rouillon, President of the PES Group in PES CoR         

*Names may be missing from this list because, for security reasons, the log of the videoconference was not recorded.