Parliament offers platitudes as people face Covid-19 devastation

Lacklustre text before MEPs falls short on economic measures needed, social protection, and fundamental rights

As people demand robust measures to tackle the biggest crisis to face Europe for decades, a resolution that will be voted on today in the European Parliament avoids the core issues and overlooks the strong EU action needed to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Left participated in negotiations on the text seeking vigorous measures to address the many challenges but refused to sign up to the final joint text when it became clear the measures proposed were not up to scratch given the ongoing crisis people are facing. The GUE/NGL group will again seek to strengthen the text today.

Demanding a strong stance from the Parliament, GUE/NGL Co-Presidents Martin Schirdewan and Manon Aubry set out the Left’s position ahead of today’s plenary session of the European Parliament.

Manon Aubry says:

“With this resolution, MEPs are ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room. It simply doesn’t set out a sufficient response to the ongoing crisis. We need a radically better plan from the European institutions involving a total jettisoning of the destructive economic programme that is partly responsible for deficiencies in health care systems, which Covid-19 has illustrated. To tackle this crisis, nothing short of the profound revision of the EU’s failed economic governance agenda is required. Constraints on member states’ leeway in terms of spending to save lives must be eliminated.

“The text on the table today failed to make a stand on the ongoing debate about the future of the corona debt. Member states need to be reassured that their huge debt from the pandemic will not be used to force them to endure further austerity measures. By refusing to challenge governments and by not calling for concrete and financial solidarity, the Parliament has missed its opportunity to play a useful role in these difficult times.”

For Martin Schirdewan, past mistakes are in grave danger of being repeated:

“The Parliament has failed to comprehend the seriousness of the question of public debt as we enter into a sharp downturn. As MEPs, we must condemn the outcome of the Eurogroup meeting that agreed to activate the austerity-trap of the European Stability Mechanism instead of choosing the fair solution of European Coronabonds backed by the ECB. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past!

“As public representatives, we need to stand up for the strongest possible measures to protect the lives, health, and incomes of workers, the unemployed, women, people living in poverty and those who are especially vulnerable during this pandemic, including refugees, homeless people, and prisoners. The Parliament’s position falls short of what is required. We on the Left have proposed a comprehensive set of policies to achieve this, based on state intervention in the health sector and the broader economy, and a massive increase in government spending to fund what is required.

“We must also take a stand on ensuring that fundamental rights cannot be optional for members of the EU – attacks on democracy such as those we’ve seen in Hungary and other member states cannot stand.”

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