Unfortunately, a microscopic virus might achieve what Brexit, the migration crisis or the 2008 financial crisis failed to do: fatally injure the European Union. Countering the steps forward of the European Institutions, we see the irresponsibility of a few, but powerful, national governments - more concerned with short-term domestic electoral calculations than with the health and future of the common project - exacerbating the current crisis still further. However, in Southern Europe, and therefore in all of Europe, there is only one vaccine against economic collapse, as a result the health crisis. It is called solidarity.
At this historical moment, Europe has no right to fail. Its credibility and its future are at stake. Let us be clear: it is not a question here of a struggle between Southern and Northern Europe, or Eastern versus Western Europe. Rather, at the continental level, we have to decide whether we want a Europe that cares and protects or a Europe of “every man for himself”. We, from the South and the North, are clear: a Europe of national selfishness, in addition to being unjust, is totally inefficient in facing a catastrophe that has no borders.
Only a Europe of cooperation can fight this pandemic today and build a more equitable and sustainable future as soon as we overcome this crisis. In a continent as interdependent as ours, not cooperating would be both a failure and a total lack of responsibility for governments across Europe. Conversely, sharing decisions and sovereignty in a coordinated way is much more powerful than national withdrawal. Faced with global challenges, a Europe of solidarity and cooperation is the answer.
Furthermore, not cooperating now would pose profound risks to European cohesion, opening the door to our demons of the past. Because, rubbing their hands with glee at the inability of some to make a qualitative leap at the European level, is the extreme right. They are the political force that has only one thing in common across Europe: hatred. We already know how the story usually ends when we leave the reins to xenophobic and authoritarian tendencies. A European project based on solidarity and mutual aid is the best containment against the unnameable.
In this context, the very unfortunate statements of the Dutch Finance Minister and the lack of support for the development of Coronabonds from the German Government in particular, along with the Dutch, Austrian and Finnish governments, point in exactly the wrong direction. It is a sign of economic European non-solidarity and that feeds extremism and a retreat into national identities. The virus was not caused by any European state and threatens all European citizens equally.
Faced with this daunting challenge, it is time to urgently establish Coronabonds to help raise the necessary funds during the health crisis as well as afterwards for the recovery. These Bonds would allow the European Union to issue common public debt for which the risks are jointly assumed by all the countries of the eurozone. And these Coronabonds would be an instrument to finance the public investments that all Eurozone countries will have to face, for example in order to strengthen health systems, help SMEs and the self-employed, or invest in a green reconstruction of our economy. Alongside that, and in addition to the positive and welcome action of the European Central Bank and a powerful rescue fund, we urge the Member States and the EU to put in place true European unemployment insurance (beyond what is currently proposed by the European Commission) and, finally, a common fiscal policy. A crisis without borders demands a new-born, socio-economic solidarity.
Finally, just like climate change, which is another urgent and existential emergency, the pandemic deeply questions the way our societies are organized and the way we live on this planet. More than ever, collectively we need a new compass. In this perspective, the COVID-19 crisis reinforces the absolute need for transformational initiatives, such as a bold European Green Compact, or European Green Deal.
After the crisis, we will need green reconstruction, which should focus on small and medium-sized enterprises and the self-employed, a massive reinvestment in quality public services, especially in the health sector, and which should contribute to turning our entire economy towards an ecological and socially just transition. Only then will this crisis lead to fairer, more sustainable, and more democratic societies.
We are all in this together. This is the hour of a Europe of Solidarity.
Evelyne Huytebroeck and Thomas Waitz
Co-chairs of the European Green Party
Inés Sabanés and Florent Marcellesi
Co-spokespersons of the Spanish Greens - EQUO
Elena Grandi and Matteo Badiali
Co-chairs of the Italian Greens
MEP and Spokesperson of the Green German delegation in the European Parliament
MEP and Vicepresident of the European Parliament
Article originally publised on eldiario.es