Ahead of today’s extraordinary plenary session of the European Parliament on special measures to address the coronavirus pandemic, Left MEPs insist on a comprehensive European response that discards failed economic dogmas and puts protecting life as the top priority.
GUE/NGL Co-President Manon Aubry set out the Left’s expectations in this unprecedented public health crisis:
“Emergency measures were a necessary first step to support member states and help them cope with the pandemic in the short run. However, the re-allocation of cohesion funds will not be enough to fight the virus and mitigate the impact of the recession. We need much stronger coordination of health, social, economic and financial responses to the crisis. We also need the EU to learn lessons from the failures of austerity, free trade, and competition dogmas.”
Having last week called on EU institutions and member states to enact a massive, coordinated emergency plan to protect lives, jobs and incomes, the GUE/NGL leaders demand a definitive change of tack on economic policy, with Co-President Martin Schirdewan also warning against authoritarian drifts:
“What is plainly obvious is that this crisis must herald, once and for all, the end of neoliberal economic policy, which has undermined our collective capacity to tackle challenges like this. We can only overcome crises such as this pandemic with collective, public and democratic solutions. Strong public services, especially universal public health systems, are vital and must be defended and strengthened, now, and in the long-term. Public services belong in public hands.
“Meanwhile, the drift towards authoritarianism of several EU governments, such as Viktor Orbán’s in Hungary, is of concern for our group, which is fully committed to fighting against such power grabs. The coronavirus crisis must not be used as an excuse by governments to take authoritarian measures and curb democratic and civil rights,” he concluded.