This Action Plan has been launched by the S&D Group on 25 March 2020. The COVID-19 crisis and its multiple impacts on our societies continue to evolve daily. The S&D Group is monitoring the situation continuously and stands ready to respond to the crisis with additional political demands and proposals as the situation evolves in the coming weeks and months.
S&D ACTION PLAN TO FIGHT COVID-19 PANDEMIC: 25 PROPOSALS TO OVERCOME THE CRISIS
- EU-wide investment in research and efficient data sharing for an effective treatment and a potential vaccine against COVID-19, which must be accessible for all.
- EU-wide stockpiling of essential medical equipment, material and supplies, provision of test kits for regions which are highly affected, efficient and flexible joint procurement for medical supplies, strengthened public health agencies (ECDC, EMA) through the mobilisation of all public health tools available at European level.
- Immediate creation of Corona-bonds guaranteed by a purchase programme of the European Central Bank.
- Activating the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) with a specific credit line to avoid interest rate spreads of national public bonds, without additional macroeconomic conditionality.
- Launch a temporary European minimum income scheme in order to protect all types of workers, self-employed and small businesses, including in particular workers and self-employed in precarious forms of work and low-income families.
- A loan guarantee for first home owners to prevent a mortgage default, together with a specific scheme to protect tenants from eviction in case of an economic shock during the crisis.
- Ensure continuous supply and distribution of essential goods and vital medical and protective equipment within the Single Market.
- Allow for full flexibility to be provided by the State Aid framework, including the activation of Art.107(3) to “remedy serious disturbance”, and implementation of the Commission’s proposed new Temporary Framework, as long as necessary during the recovery phase.
- Ensure reliable food supplies from agriculture, fisheries and food business during and beyond the immediate health crisis, safeguarding their continued production and barrier-free transport across the Single Market.
- Better coordination and information sharing between Member States regarding border closures and restrictions, including green lanes to protect supply chains.
- Launch the Unemployment Reinsurance Benefit Scheme and a temporary European Employment Guarantee to address potentially massive unemployment depending on the speed of recovery. These proposals should be guided by a comprehensive European social recovery strategy at EU and national levels in close dialogue with social partners, safeguarding workers’ rights and ensuring well-being for all.
- Launch a comprehensive Anti-Poverty Strategy and strengthen social security systems. The European Social Recovery should focus on the most vulnerable, including children and single-parent households.
- Bridging the digital divide, and invest quality access to the internet, in particular to support online learning and schooling in remote areas, as well as fiscal facilities for individuals and families to buy computers or tablets.
- Taking preventive measures for refugees and asylum-seekers who are in hotspots and detention centers.
- The Commission and the Member States should include all Western Balkan countries in the EU platforms and mechanisms to fight COVID-19
- The EU must show international solidarity. A COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund has been launched by the WHO. We welcome the mobilisation of 25 million euros of the European Development Fund to be channeled through WHO.
MEDIUM TERM ACTION
- Investing and building up the public health systems in Europe, encouraging member states to reinforce the hiring of medical staff with enough resources to salaries and medical equipment to their national health systems.
- Sufficient EU resources through an ambitious Multi-Annual Financial Framework for 2021-2027. It is self-evident that even the 1.3% of GNI proposed by the European Parliament will not be enough to recover from this crisis in these circumstances.
LONG TERM ACTION
- Complement the immediate ECB and ESM action by the creation of a European Treasury, empowered to issue Eurobonds on a stable basis. It is needed to support the continuing efforts of Member States to solidify and stabilise the economic and social recovery, and provide financial clout to pursue EU’s long-term sustainable development and European Green Deal.
- Reform the European fiscal rules to enforce their counter-cyclical capacity and turn them into an incentive for the significant public investment needs arising from the European Green Deal. The final goal is to ensure environmental, economic and social sustainability and equal sharing of the burdens and profits of the transition.
- Revise and extend the EU Own Resources (art. 311 of the Treaty) in order to reduce GNI contributions by Member States and increase the amount of fresh revenues, necessary to implement the new European policy agenda and priorities.
- A new Annual Sustainable Growth Survey to reframe the on-going European Semester in a fundamentally changed economic and social context since its launch in November 2019. It should be used as leverage for the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
- A new European Industrial Policy to make it not only more competitive but also more resilient to global shocks, and as a priority for strategic sectors. This should also lead to increased European production of medicines and pharmaceutical ingredients, medical devices, equipment and materials. Public participation or even the nationalisation of system-relevant and strategic corporations needs to be a final option if industrial groups and corporations in those sectors cannot survive the crisis otherwise. The new Just Transition Fund should be mobilised in this regard, and its scope should allow to support the development of industrial activity in medical products and equipment.
- A robust and well-financed regional and cohesion policy as a vital tool to support a cohesive economic and social recovery across the whole EU. This should be accompanied by the simplification of the procedures to access funds.
- Build up Europe’s resilience by learning all the lessons from the current crisis in terms of insufficient emergency planning and emergency response capacities in the health, economic and social fields. The European Commission should provide a proposal for a broad-based and ambitious European resilience strategy to Parliament and Council in the near future, including the impact of climate emergency.