Sassoli: “The strength of the new Europe is our communities” 

 

Extracts from President Sassoli’s speech to Italian government’s consultation on economic recovery

During a speech to the inaugural session of the Italian Government’s consultation on a strategy for the economic recovery post-COVID, European Parliament President David Sassoli stressed the need for a new European model. He said:

“In Brussels, the first phase of the pandemic prompted us to reflect on the need for a different Europe. We are in a new moment, which means taking choices that are very different from the past. Europeans recognise that this is not the usual European response. Instead the Union has brought about historic change in just a few weeks. Missing this moment would be a political error. Of course, there are still questions to be clarified, negotiations to be completed, and tough decisions to take, but a turning point has occurred.

“We are not only discussing emergency measures: the coordinates of where we are heading have changed. That requires changing the guidelines that have governed Europe for the past 20 years. We know that the neoliberal model that pushed the Union into difficulties and imbalances must not have a role in this new phase. This is a political knot that must be grasped, if we are to truly start again.

“It is clear that nobody can face this crisis alone, national interest requires European cohesion, unity, and solidarity. National governments must show great responsibility to ensure this money is used in the most effective way possible. The funds that arrive in national treasuries will be public and any loss or waste will not be admissible.

“Ensuring the public are fully involved in the recovery process is fundamental to its success. The public must be the protagonists of the reconstruction. Now is the right time to establish a renewed public role in economic and industrial policy. It is not a question of taking models from the past but of protecting the most vulnerable in society and aligning national programs with European objectives. After the outbreak of ‘mad cow’ disease, an integrated European animal health policy was developed, it would be absurd if after COVID we were unable to have common standards of management and intervention to protect human health.

“The recovery plan has rightly been called Next Generation EU because it will invest in the next generations. We have a responsibility to lay the foundations for their prosperity and development. This requires great investment in common goods, such as education and training, to give everyone the same opportunities. There must be no more Serie A and Serie B of schools in Europe. Young people, but also, women have been particularly affected by this crisis. The data shows that years of progress could be rolled back, we must not allow this to happen. We need structural reforms and direct support measures for people. For example, yesterday, Spain announced a minimum income to support its poorest citizens.

“The choice for the Union is to find a new development model, based on the Green economy, sustainability, and the digital transition. We want to be leaders in the fight against climate change. It is therefore essential that national recovery plans are aligned with this goal.

“In Europe, even in this period, we have seen firsthand how aggressive some countries' tax practices are, taking resources away from other countries. It is right to remedy this. Chancellor Merkel spoke about it recently and I expressed to her the support of the European Parliament.

“The European Union is indicating the port to be reached, European governments are setting course and holding their hand firmly on the helm. Together we must build a new identity for our continent, as Hermann Hesse said, “pushing the roots deeper without shaking the branches.”

The video of the President´s speech is available here