Procedure : 2020/2616(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B9-0148/2020

Texts tabled :

B9-0148/2020

Debates :

PV 16/04/2020 - 17
CRE 16/04/2020 - 17

Votes :

Texts adopted :


<Date>{14/04/2020}14.4.2020</Date>
<NoDocSe>B9‑0148/2020</NoDocSe>
PDF 197kWORD 63k

<TitreType>MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION</TitreType>

<TitreSuite>to wind up the debate on the statements by the Council and the Commission</TitreSuite>

<TitreRecueil>pursuant to Rule 132(2) of the Rules of Procedure</TitreRecueil>


<Titre>on EU coordinated action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences</Titre>

<DocRef>(2020/2616(RSP))</DocRef>


<RepeatBlock-By><Depute>Manon Aubry, Martin Schirdewan</Depute>

<Commission>{GUE/NGL}on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group</Commission>

</RepeatBlock-By>


B9‑0148/2020

European Parliament resolution on EU coordinated action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences

(2020/2616(RSP))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to the risk assessment of the COVID-19 outbreak carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO), which has declared the risk of spread and the risk of impact of COVID-19 to be ‘very high’ at a global level and has characterised the outbreak as a pandemic,

 having regard to the WHO’s strategic preparedness and response plan for the new coronavirus,

 having regard to the rapid risk assessment of the coronavirus outbreak carried out by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the updates thereof,

 having regard to the most recent ECDC Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR) and to its public health guidelines on COVID-19,

 having regard to Decision No 1082/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2013 on serious cross-border threats to health and repealing Decision No 2119/98/EC[1],

 having regard to Decision No 1313/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on a Union Civil Protection Mechanism[2],

 having regard to the revised European Social Charter of the Council of Europe of 3 May 1996,

 having regard to the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) proclaimed by Parliament, the Council and the Commission in November 2017,

 having regard to the statement by EU finance ministers of 23 March 2020 on the Stability and Growth Pact in the light of the COVID-19 crisis,

 having regard to the Commission proposal of 2 April 2020 for a Council regulation on the establishment of a European instrument for temporary support to mitigate unemployment risks in an emergency (SURE) following the COVID-19 outbreak (COM(2020)0139),

 having regard to the International Labour Organization preliminary assessment note of 18 March 2020 entitled ‘COVID-19 and the world of work: Impacts and policy responses’,

 having regard to the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union (Fiscal Compact),

 having regard to the statements of the European Central Bank of 12 and 18 March 2020[3],

 having regard to the Federal Reserve interest rate cut of 3 March 2020[4],

 having regard to the Eurogroup statement of 4 March 2020[5],

 having regard to the European Council statement of 26 March 2020[6],

 having regard to the Interim Economic Assessment of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development of 2 March 2020[7],

 having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

 having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

 having regard to the United Nations General Assembly resolution on global solidarity to fight the coronavirus disease 2019,

 having regard to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report update on the COVID-19 shock to developing countries,

 having regard to its resolution of 28 November 2019 on the climate and environment emergency[8],

 having regard to Rule 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the novel coronavirus, first reported in Wuhan in December 2019 and now known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), together with its associated disease, COVID-19, has now spread all over the world, and has officially been characterised as a pandemic;

B. whereas public healthcare systems are under great pressure to ensure adequate care for all patients; whereas they are receiving less and less funding and are being neglected as a result of liberalisation and privatisation processes, on the one hand, and right-wing austerity measures, on the other; whereas they are consequently less able to function in both normal and abnormal situations, including the current COVID-19 outbreak; whereas there is a worrying lack of intensive care unit beds, personal protection equipment, medicine and medical devices all over the Member States; whereas this scarcity varies considerably from country to country;

C. whereas the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the consequences of neoliberal EU policies and the absence of coordination and solidarity among Member States in times of health crises, which have also delayed the measures necessary to support Member States in severe difficulty and to boost economic and social recovery; whereas the EU has failed to promote a common strategy to fight the virus in order to avoid competition between Member States for scarce health resources;

D. whereas the ILO has stated that the economic and labour crisis accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to global job losses of 195 million full-time jobs in the second quarter of 2020;

E. whereas the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive and disruptive impact on Member States’ economic systems and has caused disruptions to society, especially with regard to vulnerable groups and the income and rights of workers; whereas collective bargaining coverage is declining across the EU;

F. whereas the European Central Bank has committed to establishing a EUR 750 billion Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme to purchase private and public sector securities, which will partially relieve government debt during the crisis, as well as EUR 120 billion in quantitative easing measures and EUR 20 billion in debt purchases;

G. whereas the Commission has decided to activate the ‘general escape clause’ set out in the Stability and Growth Pact deficit rules in an attempt to encourage public spending by Member States, but has not repealed the pact;

H. whereas both the epidemic itself and the resulting economic and social crisis are global problems; whereas now more than ever, competition must be replaced with solidarity and cooperation on a global level;

I. whereas climate change and the continuous, worldwide loss of biodiversity and destruction of natural habitats greatly increase the risks of zoonotic diseases; whereas the COVID-19 outbreak must in no way be misused as an excuse for delays in tackling the climate and environmental emergency; whereas there is an urgent need for a green, social rebuilding of our society and economy after the outbreak;

J. whereas the measures taken by governments should always respect the fundamental rights of each and every individual; whereas these measures should be necessary, proportional and temporary;

K. whereas the Hungarian Parliament passed a law on 30 March 2020 giving Viktor Orbán and his government a parliamentary mandate to rule by decree indefinitely and the possibility of imposing sanctions of up to five years of imprisonment on journalists covering the pandemic;

L. whereas the introduction or prolongation of internal border controls affect the right to free movement and the Schengen Area as a whole; whereas restrictions on travel must not affect the right to seek asylum and must observe the obligations related to access to international protection, in particular the principle of non-refoulement, and fundamental rights, as stated in Article 4 of the Schengen Borders Code;

M. whereas since 17 March 2020, camps on the five Aegean Islands have been on lockdown, trapping around 40 000 asylum seekers in severely overcrowded centres in inhumane and degrading conditions, thereby exposing them to a higher risk of COVID-19; whereas COVID-19 also poses a serious risk to people in pre-removal immigration detention centres; whereas undocumented migrants are among those most exposed to COVID-19 and among the least protected, as in most Member States, primary healthcare is inaccessible to people with irregular migration status;

HEALTH CRISIS

Ensuring essential care and supplies

1. Regrets the deaths associated with COVID-19, expresses empathy with the next of kin of the victims, with the patients currently affected by the coronavirus and with those in quarantine and self-isolation, and expresses solidarity with the countries and regions most affected all over the world;

2. Applauds and thanks the healthcare professionals who have been working tirelessly and in particularly difficult conditions to combat the spread of the virus and to treat COVID-19 patients; calls on the Member States to ensure sufficient resources and protection equipment and a sufficient workforce throughout their healthcare systems; appreciates and applauds the efforts of all other essential workers who have kept our society running at a risk to their own health and to that of their loved ones; recognises that in many cases it is precisely those people who have suffered hardship, attacks on their salaries and rights, including through EU recommendations and neoliberal policies, and a lack of recognition for many years; calls for special attention to be paid to the agriculture and food sector, which is heavily dependent on seasonal migrant labour; calls for the defence of rights and an increase in wages and social protection for all workers, in line with the development of technology and production; calls for a substantial improvement in the living and working conditions of all workers and their families;

3. Deplores the delayed reaction of the EU in addressing the pandemic and is deeply worried about the lack of solidarity shown by certain Member States and the EU itself with those most affected by the crisis; stresses the need for effective coordination and planning at EU level, involving better allocation of existing resources to help the countries most in need and mobilisation of the public and private sectors to produce masks, ventilators, tests and medicines and share them with one another, in order to reverse the dependencies that have been exposed in the context of the outbreak and to provide support to national health systems at the different stages of the pandemic, including guidelines on the measures to be taken by national, regional and local authorities; calls on all the Member States with the capacity to do so to send their doctors, nurses and medical resources to the regions most affected and to take in patients from those regions;

4. Is deeply concerned about the global, European and national lack of supplies of personal protection equipment (PPE), testing kits, medical devices and medicines as a result of low-stock policies and the outsourcing of their production outside the EU and the individual Member States; underlines that this lack of supplies is especially disturbing in the case of medical and social care professionals who are on the front line of the fight and in direct contact with patients, as well as in the case of economically vulnerable groups; calls on Member States to show solidarity and ensure the availability of PPE to healthcare workers throughout the EU; welcomes the accelerated joint procurement procedures that the Commission has launched with Member States and calls on the Commission and the Member States to put forward a plan to develop each Member State’s strategic productive sectors in a coordinated and cohesive way; calls on Member States to nationalise or requisition production sites when needed in order to produce all necessary medical devices; calls on the Commission to make full use of all the possibilities under the Union Civil Protection Mechanism to ensure adequate supplies in the future;

5. Stresses the importance of the fast delivery of all medical products and devices; calls for the immediate implementation of green lane border crossings for trucks and lorries transporting these medical products and devices and for those vehicles to be given absolute priority with no delays;

6. Is concerned about the protection of non-essential workers who should stop working during lockdown; calls on the Member States to suspend non-essential activities; calls on the Commission to coordinate a joint approach among Member States and a list of essential activities to be carried out under quarantine with sufficient PPE and to advise all other workers to stay at home;

7. Calls for a coordinated post-lockdown approach in the EU, in order to avoid a resurgence of the virus; urges the Member States to jointly develop criteria for lifting the quarantine and other emergency measures and to lift such measures in a coordinated way, on the basis of the preservation of human life;

8. Calls on Member States to work towards better cooperation, planning and interconnectedness among themselves with regard to healthcare systems; suggests the implementation of a stronger mutual recognition system for direct payments among the different health systems in the Member States; calls for the establishment of a coordinated health framework to ensure cooperation among the Member States and the implementation of robust policies; calls on the EU to provide support to national public health systems, while respecting national competences and sovereignty; invites the Commission to coordinate a joint approach to overcome the deficiencies in the healthcare systems which the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted, inter alia by assisting the development of robust common healthcare standards; calls for the creation of a Health Fund aimed at better supporting the thousands of regional and local leaders who are struggling to provide public health services locally;

9. Is deeply preoccupied by how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted access to critical sexual and reproductive health services and hampered Member State authorities’ ability to respond to gender-based violence;

10. Calls on Member States to recognise the fact that many healthcare workers could be traumatised by the current events and to ensure the appropriate care; calls on the Commission to provide the necessary funds to strengthen the protection of physical and mental healthcare structures and units and to carry out information and public awareness campaigns to support all citizens, in particular vulnerable groups exposed to uncertainty, isolation and violence;

11. Stresses the importance of the work done by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA); calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that sufficient resources are provided to the ECDC and the EMA, now and in the future multiannual financial framework (MFF), especially with regard to their staff; reiterates that the previous cuts of 20 full-time ECDC employees should at the very least be reversed immediately; emphasises that staff should preferably be permanent rather than contractual; calls on the Commission and Member States to reinforce the role and competences of the ECDC to ensure better uptake of their recommendations and guidelines;

12. Emphasises the need for a thorough evaluation of the COVID-19 outbreak and the response to the pandemic at global, EU and Member State level, in order to learn from the failures of neo-liberal policies and austerity and to strengthen public health systems in both their curative and preventive dimension in order that they are better equipped and sufficiently financed to deal with a future epidemic; stresses the importance of collecting up-to-date and relevant non-personal data in this regard;

13. Welcomes the EUR 47.5 million allocated to urgently needed research into COVID-19 vaccine development, treatment and diagnostics aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus; underlines the importance of sufficient EU funds for preparedness and a response to the COVID-19 outbreak, such as the European Virus Archive – GLOBAL (EVAg), the PREPARE project and the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R) network;

14. Calls on the Commission to ensure that, when EU public money is spent on research, the results of that research are not protected by intellectual property rights and price accessibility to patients is guaranteed for the products developed; stresses the importance of public research and development activities and institutions and of cooperation at international level, while expressing concerns over the dominant role of multinationals in the pharmaceutical sector; urges all pharmaceutical companies to pool their data and knowledge in a collective effort to identify, test, develop and manufacture treatments to curb the disease;

15. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to avoid the mistakes of the past, namely that after the SARS outbreak research into a vaccine was set aside, while continuation of this research could have greatly accelerated current efforts to find a vaccine as the two viruses are closely related; requests guarantees that the current vaccine research will not be stopped once the COVID-19 epidemic is over;

16. Emphasises that strengthening the public provision of universal healthcare is the best way to fight global epidemics and protect our societies, and stresses that public health should be in the hands of the public or non-profit sector in order not to depend on the market; calls for the constitution of publicly owned pharmaceutical companies; calls for the preservation of public healthcare systems and a substantial increase in their funding to ensure universal access to good quality hospitals, care facilities for the elderly, local health services and medicines and that the rights of people with disabilities are upheld; deplores the fact that the Stability and Growth Pact and the country-specific recommendations under the European Semester led Member States to cut funding to their health systems to achieve nominal convergence criteria; calls on all Member States to put an end to any budget cuts and invest massively in their public health systems, including when the economic crisis unfolds further;

SOCIAL CRISIS

Saving employment, incomes and social protection

17. Takes note of the Commission’s proposal of 2 April 2020 for a Council regulation on SURE; calls for the new instrument to ensure workers’ jobs, salaries and labour rights; regrets, however, that SURE remains a voluntary mechanism and that its funding comes only in the form of loans rather than public subsidies, raised by way of financial markets, which will allow private banks to profit from the crisis and increase the debt of Member States; emphasises that use of this instrument should not lead to loss of income for workers;

18. Calls on the Member States to make full use of the European Social Fund and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to mitigate the impact of the crisis for workers who have been laid off and the most vulnerable groups; calls on the Commission to immediately prepare contingency measures to avoid a shutdown of programmes under the European Social Fund and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund on 31 December 2020 if an agreement on the MFF cannot be reached in time;

19. Calls on the Member States to invest in public services of general interest, in particular healthcare, education, childcare, care for the elderly and nursing homes, care for the homeless and housing, in order to mitigate the social crisis and to improve the lives of disadvantaged groups, including those at risk of poverty or social exclusion;

20. Calls on the Member States to prohibit evictions and allow all unemployed and low-to-medium-income borrowers to suspend payments on housing loans and rents for the duration of the crisis when facing financial difficulties, without additional bank fees;

21. Calls on the Member States to promote social dialogue and collective bargaining in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis and to ensure that the social partners are fully involved in the design and implementation of the measures taken; calls on the Member States to take the measures necessary to safeguard jobs, working conditions and wages, including measures for short-time work, income compensation arrangements and similar measures; denounces the attempts by some Member States and companies to take advantage of the situation and attack workers’ rights and conditions; invites Members States to consult with trade unions and workers in order to define occupational health and safety measures against the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic and in order to stop activities that are not essential with a view to protecting workers from contagion;

22. Calls on the Member States to extend the duration period and suspend conditionalities for receiving unemployment benefits until full economic recovery has been achieved; believes that special attention should be given to protect those furthest from the labour market;

23. Calls on the Member States, under social and environmental conditions, to assume responsibility as a payer of last resort by directly covering the bills of small and medium-sized enterprises and financing measures to save jobs and protect incomes such as wage subsidies; calls on the Members States to subsidise short-time working arrangements for full pay as well as granting extensions of paid sick leave and reductions in working hours for workers taking care of children and dependent family members while maintaining full-time remuneration; calls on the Member States to end digital platforms’ activities and to extend protective measures to bogus self-employed persons and all other non-standard workers, including platform workers, with the objective of replacing all lost earnings;

24. Underlines that all financial aid to private companies should be conditional on zero dismissals and protecting existing levels of working conditions; urges the Member States to temporarily ban dividends to shareholders by companies and to freeze any CEO increase of revenues and bonuses to management; is of the view that when the State bails out private companies in strategic sectors it should become a part-owner as a way to ensure sustainability and efficiency, as well as ensuring that taxpayers’ money can be recuperated after the crisis;

25. Stresses that bailouts should come with strict conditions for environmental, social and tax standards, human rights due diligence throughout supply chains and tax transparency; emphasises that no subsidies should go to fossil fuel or heavily polluting projects;

26. Calls on the Member States and the social partners to ensure, where appropriate and as a temporary measure, that all workers have the option and means of teleworking; expresses concern over the digital divide in that regard and calls for a review of the European internet deployment plan for equality of access for all to 4G everywhere;

27. Stresses that particular attention should be paid to posted workers who are stuck in another Member State, without the possibility of self-confinement, and who often do not have access to a short-time working allowance and health insurance; urges the Member States to guarantee the security and healthcare of posted workers who are on their territory; demands the abrogation of the Posting of Workers Directive[9];

28. Denounces the exploitation of scarcity and black market phenomena and the sharp increase in the price of sanitisers, disinfecting wipes and masks; calls on Member states to regulate the prices of essential products; emphasises the need to increase the role and responsibility of online platforms, which should be made co-responsible for offering for sale non-conforming and fraudulent products; calls on the Commission to add skyrocketing pricing of essential products to the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive[10] to prevent sudden drastic increases in the price of essential products on online marketplaces; deplores the actions of some insurers in refusing to pay out interruption of business awards;

29. Urges the Commission to offer financial aid to the cultural and creative sectors, including through the Corona Response Investment Initiative, and calls on the Member States to ensure access to compensation measures for all cultural professionals, including freelance journalists;

Recovery and social justice

30. Calls on the Member States and the Commission to remove all barriers to collective bargaining and to address the persistent decline in collective bargaining coverage; is of the opinion that collective bargaining and/or tripartite agreements are by far the best instruments to ensure a democratic and socially just recovery where ‘no one is left behind’, based on the creation of quality jobs and the transition to open-ended forms of employment;

31. Calls on the Commission to introduce a clear exemption for bogus self-employed workers, such as platform workers, from the EU’s competition rules in order to allow such workers to bargain collectively without being considered a cartel;

32. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that all stimulus packages and bailouts address loss of income, social protection and pension entitlements for women as a result of the care burden; calls on the Member States and the social partners to adopt working arrangements that promote redistribution of the care burden within families without loss of income or a decline in the level of wages;

33. Calls on the Commission, the Member States and the social partners to develop gender-sensitive health and safety measures in the workplace, specifically targeted to frontline sectors, with a view to preventing future outbreaks; recalls that most frontline professions are overrepresented by women, as in the case of nurses and other healthcare professionals, pharmacy workers, supermarket cashiers, teachers, childcare workers, care workers for the elderly and cleaners;

34. Calls on the Commission to present a proposal on a permanent European Unemployment Reinsurance Scheme, based on grants and the principle of risk sharing and not on loan conditionality; stresses that any steps taken on this path must guarantee a progressive convergence in labour rights, rejecting any harmonisation triggering a race to the bottom of living and working conditions;

35. Calls for the EU to accede to the revised European Social Charter and to take immediate steps to implement it; calls on all Member States to ratify the revised charter;

ECONOMIC CRISIS

Essential economic assistance

36. Regrets the Eurogroup’s delayed and inadequate response to the crisis of 9 April 2020; notes that this meeting exposes the existing contradictions within the EU, as well as the appalling lack of solidarity and of measures proportionate to the scale of the problems that Member States and individuals are facing; considers the total package of EUR 0.5 trillion to be extremely weak in the light of the increased needs; opposes the narrow scope, limited capacity, conditionality and surveillance attached to the EUR 240 billion through the European Stability Mechanism (ESM); regrets that the solution presented is an undefined and vague Recovery Fund;

37. Welcomes the decision to activate the ‘general escape clause’ of the Stability and Growth Pact; calls for the permanent repeal of the pact, as well as the repeal of the EU Economic Governance Framework as a whole, including the European Semester and the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance, which constrain and condition Member States’ room for manoeuvre in promoting their social, public and productive development strategies; considers it inappropriate for the EU institutions to issue country-specific recommendations in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, especially on fiscal positions that concern spending on social and health services in the Member States; calls for the replacement of the Stability and Growth Pact with a Sustainable Development and Employment Pact after the crisis;

38. Demands the immediate and permanent suspension of the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure, in order for governments to be able to spend (and borrow) the amount required to meet this challenge without fear of being sanctioned;

39. Calls on Member States to do whatever it takes to protect employment and incomes, and to ensure universal access to public services – particularly social and health services – even if it means that the Medium-Term Budgetary Objectives will ultimately not be met;

40. Asks the EU institutions, particularly the European Central Bank (ECB), to take urgent action to prevent a new financial and sovereign debt crisis from developing; Stresses in this regard that the ECB must commit to acting as the lender of last resort for Member States, not only for banks, by making its sovereign bond-buying programmes unconditional, unlimited and based on the spending needs of Member States rather than on the current capital key;

41. Calls on the ECB to identify and buy all sovereign bonds related to COVID-19 and to fully cancel the corona debt issued by Member States during the COVID-19 outbreak and the period of response to its economic and social impacts;

42. Calls for the immediate creation of COVID-19 bonds and EU Green Deal bonds issued by the ECB or guaranteed by an ECB purchase programme which  must be unconditional and which will enable the Member States to rapidly recover from the crisis, as well as transform their economies, without leaving anyone behind; points out that COVID-19 bonds should be perpetual and interest-free in order to represent permanent money creation which can compensate for an extraordinary economic shock; is of the opinion that these bonds could also be issued by the future European Recovery Fund or the European Investment Bank (EIB), as long as they are issued without macroeconomic or other conditionalities and immediately bought by the ECB;

43. Highlights that because the existing ESM credit lines to Member States come with enshrined conditionality similar to the Troika bailouts and memoranda, there is a need for a new mechanism that will allow unconditional, zero-interest credit lines to be provided to Member States in need of funding;

44. Demands that the ECB repurpose its quantitative easing policies, in particular its corporate sector purchasing programme, to make it conditional on businesses’ commitment to the full protection of employment, workers, rights and income and the Paris Agreement goals;

45. Calls on the ECB to consider the need to provide liquidities directly to small and medium-sized enterprises and citizens without using banks as an intermediary; stresses that the ECB must identify the lessons learned from the crisis and ask the Commission to propose a revision of its statutes in order to increase the capacity of the bank to support public spending;

46. Calls for stricter regulation of financial markets to prevent speculative attacks, and stresses that short selling should be prohibited and that the distribution of dividends, bonuses and buy-backs must be temporarily prohibited across the single market;

47. Notes the creation of the EIB Pan-European Guarantee Fund of EUR 200 billion; demands that the EIB use its maximum potential to support publicly owned companies and also to provide funds to micro, small and medium-sized businesses, conditional on the businesses’ commitment to the protection of employment, rights and income;

48. Calls for the immediate mobilisation of the EUR 4 billion in unallocated margins and flexibilities that remain available in the 2020 budget;

49. Insists that the Commission take all necessary measures to allocate the EUR 3 billion available in 2019 budgetary surplus and to channel it into the fight against COVID-19 and its social and economic impact;

50. Recalls that cohesion policy principles must be preserved during the coronavirus crisis, ensuring maximum flexibility and that no transfers are made from transition or less-developed regions to other regions;

51. Calls for the immediate enhancement, mobilisation and redirection of funds; stresses that to boost fiscal efforts, Member States must have immediate access to the EU’s structural funds, including the European Solidarity Fund, in order to respond to the crisis; emphasises that the existing EU budget must be enhanced and further funds redirected into cohesion funding that can be drawn down by Member States according to need;

52. Calls for capital controls to be implemented where necessary in order to slow the massive flight of capital from developing and emerging economies that has been taking place since the pandemic began;

53. Calls for the immediate adoption of a health exception in all trade deals concerning access to patents for medical machinery and medicines, and for no restrictions on the possibility for states to intervene in the public health sector; calls for the immediate freezing of all new free trade agreement negotiations and for a programme of revision of those agreements that have already entered into force in order to respond to current challenges, including an additional chapter allowing State aid to deal with the pandemic;

Green and socially just recovery

54. Calls on the Commission, in its revision of State aid rules, to envisage the possibility of a public and democratic State intervention in the economy, promoting development, social justice and the fulfilment of social needs, including all necessary steps for a green and socially just recovery;

55. Stresses that this outbreak has illustrated the extreme vulnerability of the globalised economy, with its long trade chains controlled by multinational enterprises and price speculators, and the EU economy’s dependence on production in third countries; points to the dire need for the re-localisation of production and industry to each Member State, promoting the development of each country’s productive sectors with a strong public sector, especially in the case of strategic sectors which are too important to be left to the market, such as medicines, sanitary products, PPE and medical devices; calls on the Commission to drastically increase its support for public funding, research and innovation in these fields;

56. Emphasises that the COVID-19 outbreak must in no way be misused as an excuse for delays in tackling the climate and environmental emergency; calls on the Commission and the Council to work tirelessly and quickly on a truly ambitious Climate Law and the Circular Economy Action Plan, and to keep pushing for ambition on all the different parts of the Green Deal, such as the Farm to Fork Strategy, the Biodiversity Strategy and the legislative proposals announced; stresses that these strategies and legislation should be published without undue delay;

57. Notes with concern how rising global temperatures, the destruction of habitats and biodiversity and the way in which humans are currently farming, trading and consuming animals can greatly exacerbate the risk of zoonotic diseases; stresses the need to drastically step up efforts to halt global warming and biodiversity and habitat loss; calls on the Commission to include in the Climate Law the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 70 % by 2030, achieving carbon neutrality before 2040 and rapidly phasing out fossil fuel subsidies; calls on the Commission and the Member States to increase efforts towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals; calls on the Member States to heavily invest in the enlargement of nature reserves, parks and green and open spaces, including within and around cities;

58. Notes that the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession, the climate emergency and extreme inequality are highly interconnected; calls on the Commission to increase the budget of the Sustainable Investment Plan to EUR 2 trillion, which will go towards funding a progressive European Social and Green Deal with the aim of creating millions of new jobs, enhancing social cohesion and the preparedness of health systems for future pandemics, and addressing the climate emergency; stresses that public money should go to public projects and deliver public gains;

59. Stresses that our society must emerge from this crisis more resilient, in order to be able to deal with future shocks; highlights that only a fully just transition towards a sustainable society and economy can provide that; calls on the Commission and Member States to unequivocally commit to a green reboot of our society and to ensure that the EU Green Deal provides a real ‘greenprint’ to restart our economy in a way that protects public health, safeguards welfare and wellbeing, and ensures a sustainable future for all;

60. Calls for the protection of wild habitats to mitigate the risk of biodiversity loss and the control of animals contaminating humans; calls for the close monitoring of emergent diseases, especially those caused by an animal microbiome, including important vectors of pathogens of human and veterinary importance; calls for continued studies on recent and past epidemic outbreaks; calls for studies on the impact of human activities on changes in the animal microbiome;

61. Calls on the Commission to propose a new ambitious MFF 2021-2027 with increased funding for cohesion, climate and health policies, while noting that the Commission’s proposal of 1.11 % of the EU-27’s gross national income or even Parliament’s 1.3 % is not enough to address the current crisis; demands that the budget increases for border control and defence are entirely redirected towards cohesion policy;

62. Demands that the Commission immediately start working on a new, re-oriented MFF contingency plan, by preparing a contingency budget, valid for at least one year starting in January 2021, and envisaging the doubling of resources compared to the commitment appropriations for the current year; stresses that this budget should explore new ways of expanding our resources and find new ways and instruments to reverse the upcoming recession due to COVID-19, and that it must comply with the flexibility rules and the concentration of resources for cohesion policy that have been set out for the 2020 budget; highlights Parliament’s institutional role as a co-legislator, against any efforts to undermine this role;

63. Calls on the EIB to implement a European Investment Plan with the main objective of reviving the economy through a Social Green Deal, as well as a programme for the development of social infrastructure;

64. Calls for a process of debt restructuring for highly indebted Member States, in order for them to have sufficient fiscal space to promote the necessary investments to counter the economic recession and strengthen public services;

65. Stresses that the EU and its Member States will need to create new resources to fund the recovery; emphasises that the recovery will not be socially just if not funded with   progressive and redistributive fiscal resources; calls for an increase in taxes targeting both big companies and wealthy individuals; calls in this regard on Member States to raise corporate income tax rates, with higher rates for the most profitable companies, especially those in the financial sector that have profited from short-term and speculative transactions, and to create an excess profit tax; calls on Member States to create a net wealth tax targeting the wealthiest individuals;

66. Calls on the Council to pledge additional EU funds to connect the Recovery Fund in a productive way to an advanced, enhanced and re-oriented MFF 2021-2027 and to provide guidelines to the fund, which will provide resources to the most vulnerable Member States, regions and individuals to enable them to deal sustainably with the increasing country, regional and social divergences and inequalities;

67. Calls on the Commission to partly suspend infringement procedures for EU VAT rules to allow Member States to reduce VAT rates for essential products or add these products to the list of zero-rated or exempted items; calls on the Commission to propose a revision of the VAT Directive[11] to introduce more progressivity in EU VAT rules; 

68. Urges Member States taking part in the enhanced cooperation procedure to agree on the adoption of a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT); stresses that a global EU solution would be the most appropriate and therefore calls on the Commission to propose a new FTT to all Member States;

69. Highlights the international solidarity that is emerging in this time of crisis, as demonstrated by China, Cuba and Venezuela, among others, and calls for such solidarity to be extended in times of other crises such as climate-induced displacement and natural disasters; believes that the international community must show the same solidarity with third countries, in particular to address loss and damage, adaptation and climate finance, and other calls for solidarity by the Global South; calls, for these reasons, for the immediate end of sanctions and economic blockades applied to third countries that compromise the health and wellbeing of people during this pandemic;

70. Calls on Member States to honour their collective commitment and deliver Official Development Assistance to developing countries; calls for the allocation of extra funds to all EU development and external and humanitarian aid tools and for a budget to assist developing countries in implementing policies to reinforce their public health systems and to deliver all the necessary material, medicinal, human and technical support to face the coronavirus outbreak; calls for support for developing countries in producing medical equipment; emphasises the need to change the new MFF according to these emergency needs and to allocate increased resources; calls for the EU to support bilateral, multilateral and commercial debt relief and the forbearance of interest payments over a two or three year period for all developing countries, especially low- and medium-income African countries;

71. Stresses that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank must guarantee countries in financial distress access to financing without discrimination and without conditionalities, as well as the ‘structural adjustment programmes’ that are weakening health systems and preventing states from responding to crises; stresses that the IMF and the World Bank must cancel the payment of debts and establish mechanisms for debt condonation, particularly with impoverished countries in need of all their resources to guarantee the right to health and other human rights, and in cases of odious debt;

72. Calls on the Commission to lead the work to strengthen all international efforts towards a truly fair and supportive global health cooperation adapted to the challenges of our time, with effective and preventive mechanisms for pandemic alerts, health crisis prevention and mechanisms for sharing patents, vaccines and medical equipment;

73. Requests that the WHO facilitate the emergence at international level, and at the level of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the World Trade Organization, of a Special International Cooperation Initiative for access to medicines, public healthcare, food and water for all as a fundamental right; calls on the Commission to coordinate with the UN, through the latter’s multi-donor coronavirus fund, to assist developing countries with weak health systems in addressing the crisis;

DEMOCRATIC CRISIS

Protecting fundamental rights

74. Underlines that citizens are entitled to protection of their fundamental rights at all times, even in an emergency, and the fundamental right of free and equal access to high-quality public health services; recalls that the WHO declared that the fundamental principles of human rights and health include, among others, equality and non-discrimination, and requires that all its member states scrupulously respect them;

75. Calls on the Member States to guarantee access to preventive and curative healthcare for all, irrespective of their immigration status or their income level; calls on the Member States to take additional social protection measures to support those who are being disproportionately affected by the crisis, including women, who are already in a disadvantaged socio-economic position, bear an even heavier care burden, and live with a heightened risk of gender-based violence, prioritising intimate partner violence in all parts of their public policy; reiterates its calls on the Council to urgently conclude the EU ratification of the Istanbul Convention; calls on the Member States to take measures to protect victims of domestic violence, especially women and children, by setting up emergency warning systems, hotlines and services, creating safe ways for women to seek support, and effectively guaranteeing violence protection facilities and shelters; calls on the Member States to effectively guarantee access to sexual and reproductive health services for all women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially safe access to abortion, and strongly rejects any attempts to backtrack on LGBTI rights; condemns in this context the attempts to further criminalise abortion care in Poland, as well as the attack on transpeoples’ rights in Hungary;

76. Calls on the Member States to adopt proportionate, necessary and non-discriminatory measures to combat COVID-19, which should be of a temporary nature with clear and mandatory time limits and subject to parliamentary scrutiny, and which should not function as a cover for repressive action under the pretext of health protection;

77. Strongly condemns the emergency law adopted by the Hungarian Parliament on 30 March 2020, which gives unlimited powers to Víktor Orbán and his government and carte blanche to restrict fundamental rights; urges the Commission and the Council to take immediate action against these developments and to use all the tools and procedures at their disposal to ensure Hungary’s full compliance with Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU); urges the Council to hold an extraordinary meeting in April in order to discuss this specific topic, as well as to ensure that this is immediately addressed in the hearings under Article 7(1) of the TEU;

78. Expresses strong concerns regarding the adoption of surveillance measures to tackle the spread of the virus, including the collection of location data from telecommunications operators or smartphone apps to track population movements or detect people who are potentially positive; urges the Commission to closely monitor national measures that can have a detrimental impact on our privacy and data protection and to consult the European Data Protection Supervisor before adopting any initiative in this field; stresses that any measures limiting our privacy and data protection must be lawful, effective to deal with the risk to life and public health, strictly proportionate and used only for public health purposes, and subject to strict time limits; stresses that emergency initiatives must not lead to mass surveillance after the crisis and calls for guarantees in this regard; further underlines that such digital support in the fight against the virus can only be successful if complemented by large scale detection tests;

79. Urges all Member States to guarantee the right to asylum and provide adequate and dignified open reception facilities for asylum-seekers that enable all preventive measures, including social distancing, to be taken, to suspend all return decisions and deportations, to end detention due to immigration status and to extend residence permits automatically and grant temporary residence permits to undocumented migrants as has been done in Portugal, and to extend existing deadlines enshrined in foreigners’ law; urges the Commission to include these demands in their guidelines to Member States and to work with the Greek authorities to evacuate the camps on the Greek islands, including by relocating and carrying out family reunification of asylum-seekers to other Member States;

80. Expresses strong concerns regarding the decision of the Italian and Maltese authorities to use the COVID-19 pandemic to declare their ports ‘unsafe’; is alarmed that these authorities have not assisted people in distress in their SAR zones despite calls on them to act; recalls that solutions should be found to protect the lives and health of both the people in distress at sea and the people on land; calls on Member States to abide by their obligation under international law to assist ships in distress and provide a place for disembarkation for people who have been saved at sea, including by civil society boats and merchant vessels; recalls its call for the EU to set-up a proactive search and rescue operation in the Central Mediterranean;

81. Urges the Member States to adopt only necessary, coordinated and proportionate measures when restricting travel or introducing and prolonging internal border controls, after careful evaluation of their effectiveness to address the public health issue and based on existing legal provisions, namely the Schengen Borders Code and the Freedom of Movement Directive and in full observance of the Charter of Fundamental Rights; recalls that people in need of international protection are exempt from the list of third country nationals not allowed in the Schengen area and urges the Members States and Commission to take all necessary actions in order to ensure this in practice; urges the Commission to monitor the legality, proportionality and coherence of all measures taken and to ensure, at least, their ex-post evaluation, in view of returning to a fully functional Schengen Area and to  full respect for the right to free movement;

82. Is concerned about the situation in prisons and detention centres, where the health of more than 1.5 million people in Europe is in danger; urges the strengthening of medical assistance and the promotion of the adoption of the measures recommended by the WHO and the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture; urges Member States to allow the early release of detainees, in particular low-risk offenders, elderly people and the most vulnerable, and to increase recourse to non-custodial measures; calls on Member States to adopt the appropriate precautionary measures to ensure respect for prisoners’ right to communicate with their families;

83. Highlights that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased cases of racism and discrimination in the EU; deplores the many incidences of scapegoating by political representatives and racist policies in several Member States, which has resulted in an increase of violence against migrants, refugees and minorities; stresses the need to address the issue of hate crimes by promoting an effective frame for legislation in every Member State; urges the Commission and its President to condemn violence against Roma people by local and regional authorities in several Member States, including collective expulsions, during the pandemic;

84. Stresses that all measures implemented by the Commission must be subjected to parliamentary scrutiny; emphasises the need for Parliament to be part of decision-making processes and therefore calls for decisions made to side-line its representatives to be overturned;

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85. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European Central Bank and the governments, parliaments and social partners of the Member States.

 

[1] OJ L 293, 5.11.2013, p. 1.

[2] OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 924.

[3] https://www.ecb.europa.eu/press/pr/date/2020/html/ecb.mp200312~8d3aec3ff2.en.html

https://www.ecb.europa.eu/press/pr/date/2020/html/ecb.pr200318_1~3949d6f266.en.html

[6] https://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/43076/26-vc-euco-statement-en.pdf

[8] Texts adopted, P9_TA(2019)0078.

[9] Directive 96/71/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 1996 concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services (OJ L 18, 21.1.1997, p. 1).

[10] Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market (OJ L 149, 11.6.2005, p. 22).

[11] Council Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006 on the common system of value added tax (OJ L 347, 11.12.2006, p. 1).

Last updated: 15 April 2020Legal notice - Privacy policy