The Covid-19 crisis is putting the very future of the EU at risk. It is now more urgent than ever to show leadership and solidarity, failure to do so is no option.

Covid-19 is confronting the EU with the biggest challenge in its history and it must now manage both the disease as well as its economic impact.

It is therefore deeply regrettable that in their meeting on 7 April, the European Finance Ministers failed once more to agree a broad plan for a post-pandemic recovery. Their failure is a blow to European solidarity and a shame for Europe at a time when GDP is collapsing, when vast swaths of industry are shut down and when 15 million workers have already lost their job.

Areas of dispute concern the funding of a common recovery plan and the use of ‘corona bonds’ in this regard as well as the conditions for the deployment of the European Stability Mechanism – the EU’s crisis-fighting instrument.

Industriall Europe insists that Europe cannot wait any longer and must urgently put in place a robust recovery programme to lay the foundations for strong, sustainable and inclusive growth. Failing to do so, will turn the current recession into a deep depression.

Europe now requires a large-scale fiscal response to keep the economy going and a post-pandemic investment programme. 

IndustriAll Europe therefore calls for:

  • Issuing long-term Eurobonds by the European Investment Bank to finance a sustainable economic recovery, based on the principles of the Green Deal and guaranteed by a purchase programme of the European Central Bank (ECB).
  • The implementation of an industrial strategy to support the digital and low-carbon transitions and to strengthen economic resilience by (re)building strategic value chains inside the EU.
  • Immediate activation of the European Stability Mechanism to support health care systems, to finance short-term work schemes and to provide income support to vulnerable workers. The loans must be long-term and at zero interest rate.
  • The establishment of an Unemployment Reinsurance Benefit Scheme based on the newly created SURE instrument to support temporary unemployment schemes.
  • Fair taxation to finance the recovery. This must include fighting tax avoidance, introducing a digital tax, taxing single-use plastics, introducing a wealth tax and a more progressive personal income tax.
  • Maintaining ECB purchase programmes to preserve the liquidity of companies and to avoid interest rate spreads of national public bonds.
  • An ambitious action plan to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights.
  • Workers’ involvement at all levels. We call for timely and effective information, consultation and participation from the shop floor to corporate boards and European works councils. Workers must also be involved in the design of redevelopment plans at regional level and in the implementation of national and European industrial action plans.

Luc Triangle, General Secretary of industriAll Europe:

“It seems that our political leaders have forgotten the lessons of the 2008 crisis, when workers that were left behind turned their backs on the political elite and fell victim to the temptations of Eurosceptic and populist parties. It is no exaggeration to say that the Covid-19 crisis is putting the very future of the EU at risk. It is an economic shock, a social disaster and a political crisis, all folded in one. It is now more urgent than ever to show leadership and solidarity, failure to do so is no option”.

“For the survival of the Eurozone and the entire post-war European project, common debt issuance is the only sensible way forward. Paradoxically, the pandemic has created a unique opportunity to strengthen the foundations for European cooperation and European policymakers must live up to this challenge. We therefore hope for a breakthrough in the next days, not weeks.” 

For more information and further comment please contact senior policy adviser Guido Nelissen.