The European Commission has unveiled a €750 billion aid package to help the EU recover from the coronavirus pandemic. €500 billion will flow as non-repayable grants and €250 billion as loans. The proposal follows a €500 billion plan proposed last week by France and Germany. The plan will require unanimous backing from all 27 EU-states. Heinz Bierbaum, the President of the European Left, comments:
“The recovery planned introduced by Ursula von der Leyen is a good basis for further negotiations but it is still not enough to face the crisis ahead of us. Europe needs a massive investment programme to overcome the corona-crisis. The European Central Bank (ECB) should be the instrument to guarantee necessary recourses to tackle the crisis and its money should be used to help the people to emerge from the health care emergency and to combat the consequences of the crisis. Both the ECB and national banks could be used to increase spending on social services and protection of the population.
It’s worrying that the plan presented by von der Leyen focuses on saving the capitalist companies and that the situation of workers on the other hand is largely neglected. Corona shows whose work keeps the society going, but those front-line-workers workers are often at the bottom of the income hierarchy and suffer from bad working conditions. Those people are the one who will pay the highest price for the crisis and the beneficent will be the rich.
To fight the crisis we need an increase in social spending and investments in the transformation of industry. Financing it requires a policy of fiscal justice. We demand a new tax collection model that taxes large sources of capital and wealth, based on tax progressivity criteria, and ends tax havens inside and outside the EU. We want the rich to pay for COVID-19.
The corona pandemic showed clearly that a profit-oriented capitalist world economy is not able to deal with a health care crisis on a global scale. EU’s recovery fund is looking for solutions to fix capitalism as quickly as possible but it will be impossible to return to “normal”. We need an economy that has people’s wellbeing and public health as its priority. On the top, the global health care crisis is playing out against the backdrop of a climate crisis that cannot be addressed by ‘business as usual’.
To safeguard the future generation we need a social and just Green New Deal, which focuses on people not just on profit. We need a new industrial policy with new concepts of energy and mobility in public hands and industrial policy which includes direct participation of the workers.”