"It is together, by mobilising all the competences, that we will succeed in getting out of this Covid-19 crisis, with Europe."
This Wednesday 1st April, the 5 MEPs of the Democratic Movement were gathered for a great debate on the actions of the European Union in the face of the Covid-19 crisis with the moderation of our French member's Deputy Secretary General, Alice Le Moal.
In these difficult and uncertain times, Marie-Pierre Vedrenne, Sylvie Brunet, Laurence Farreng, Catherine Chabaud and Christophe Grudler showed great solidarity by explaining, for an hour and a half, the actions taken by the European Union to deal with the coming crises. There were many questions, and they covered so many areas.
Marie-Pierre Vedrenne ((member of the Committee on International Trade and of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs) argued the need to rethink the global value chain. This health crisis, which affects us all, shows our dependence on China. In strategic sectors, it will be necessary to produce in Europe, as François Bayrou has long advocated. Indeed, the Democratic Movement has always advocated regulated globalisation. In the longer term, we will have to go much further in our trade agreements to ensure that imported products comply with our health and environmental standards.. Some French and European companies have already relocated their production of equipment. On the issue of screening foreign investment in Europe, we will have to move towards greater coordination.
Christophe Grudler (member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy) remarked that in a group with many liberals, consciences are awakening. Our European economy has come to a standstill overnight. Europe must now bring together the member states, which have not yet managed to reach an agreement.. It is up to the Europe of the peoples to convince the Europe of the nations. Steps have been taken: for example, states are allowed to subsidise companies. For instance, VSEs that have been heavily impacted.
🇪🇺🔴 "L'#Europe doit aider à relocaliser des industries stratégiques. Nos difficultés d'approvisionnement en matériel médical sont un signal" explique @GrudlerCh lors de notre #GDMoDem #Europe sur le #Covid19.— MoDem (@MoDem) April 1, 2020
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For small research-innovation companies, future "Horizon Europe" credits will be introduced. As a result, the budget for fundamental research will enable progress to be made, particularly in the medical field. Relocation is essential in sectors such as textiles. Christophe Grudler acknowledges that we are not far from a war economy. It is collectively that we must mobilise.
Laurence Farreng explained the use to which the €37 billion voted a few days ago in Parliament will be put. This is an emergency response to mobilise funds as quickly as possible. They come from the cohesion funds for the 2014-2020 financial years and will remain in the regions that have to manage them and are the managing bodies. The ERDF funds are the ones that will benefit from greater flexibility.
Catherine Chabaud (member of the Committee on Development, member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on Fisheries) described the difficult situation of fishermen, who see their resources not being sold. For them, temporary cessation measures, storage measures and financial measures will be introduced. Consumers have rushed to buy so-called basic necessities. Catherine Chabaud urges us to buy fresh, seasonal products. She also alerted us to the lack of manpower among farmers, who have launched an appeal for 200 pairs of arms, like the "arms for your plate" platform.
The Vice-Chair of the Renew Group Sylvie Brunet (Committee on Employment and Social Affairs) said that short time work would give rights to training, with the European fund, because it was not as easy to get back into employment as one might think. It is important now to highlight and revalue the role of the healthcare professions, often female, which have been so poorly paid up to now.
🇪🇺🔴"Il nous faut un système d’accompagnement du chômage partiel en #Europe en association avec des mécanismes de formation pour les travailleurs. Cette crise va réinventer notre façon de travailler au niveau européen" selon @syl_brunet.#GDMoDem #Europe #Covid19 pic.twitter.com/ZfUQe71UWi— MoDem (@MoDem) April 1, 2020
Christophe Grudler stressed the need for "made in Europe" in a market that is certainly liberal, but regulated. This also applies to spatial issues. Liberalism is not reducible to the economy, it also affects the rights of the individual. Sylvie Brunet noted that the liberal trend, within the group, has broken down. Solidarity is required of us, especially for the countries affected before us, such as Italy or Spain. It is towards them that the collective effort of solidarity must first be directed. Benefiting from the economic strength of one's neighbour is an elementary mechanism of solidarity. It is a pity that Germany and the Netherlands have not yet realised this.
This crisis will allow us to reinvent the way we work in Europe. All 5 are unanimous in saying that Europe is built and strengthened through crises.
Marie-Pierre Vedrenne referred to recovery bonds, to be issued at the level of the European Union, which must show solidarity.
Catherine Chabaud added that people are now discovering crisis management, where we are all in the same boat. >Now is the time to show solidarity and believe in the strength of collective intelligence.. Aren't we, the 5 of us, the walking evidence? she maliciously said, with the strength of our complementary skills.
🇪🇺🔴"On est tous sur le même bateau. On a une responsabilité individuelle et collective. Or c'est ensemble, en mobilisant toutes les compétences, que l'on réussira à sortir de cette crise #Covid19 avec l'#Europe." @CathChabaud en direct de notre #GDMoDem #Europe pic.twitter.com/EEhR1AEGtf— MoDem (@MoDem) April 1, 2020
Catherine Chabaud confirmed that the Green deal, a border carbon tax, was planned before the crisis. Even if we are in the middle of the storm, we must not forget the course of the European Union. We must relearn to consume our local products. Supporting European agriculture is essential.
This health crisis is not the last we will experience, it is not disconnected from the environmental crisis. We still have to try to get out of the crisis with a positive approach.
Our lack of European sovereignty in health and education concerns issues at the heart of democracy.
Laurence Farreng gave an overview on education. Schools, universities are shut down. Students are being sent back to their social environment, to their parents' ability to teach them.Inequalities are revealed with considerable abruptness. The rise of domestic violence, against women or children, is a sad reality (remember the emergency phone numbers: 3919, 117).
🇪🇺🔴"Aujourd'hui en Europe, 90 millions d'élèves sont confinés. Cela exacerbe des inégalités. Assurer le niveau de nos enfants, cela passe par une coordination européenne" explique @laurencefarreng lors de notre #GDMoDem #Europe sur le #Covid19. pic.twitter.com/ujkEcBRUX5— MoDem (@MoDem) April 1, 2020
Some governments, such as Hungary, are reacting to the crisis by taking full powers. Marie-Pierre Védrenne considers this attitude unacceptable, because the European Union is based on respect for the rule of law.
🇪🇺🔴"La situation en #Hongrie est inacceptable. Cette crise ne doit pas mettre en danger les démocraties en #Europe" alerte @MariePierreV lors de notre #GDMoDem #Europe sur le #Covid19. pic.twitter.com/rkloy6bZU8— MoDem (@MoDem) April 1, 2020
Our 5 MEPs have faith in the renewal of Europe. Our 5 MEPs have faith in the renewal of Europe. This crisis must act as a wake-up call. Laurence Farreng quotes a Vivavoice poll in French newspaper Libération, according to which more than 70% of French people believe that it is possible and necessary to build a true European power. This crisis will perhaps enable us to overcome our national egoisms.
Catherine Chabaud said she was happy to see all that Europe can undertake. European public communication does not sufficiently show this!
Catherine Chabaud pointed out that the European Union is aware of the risk for Africa. Europe is the leading international investor in Africa. The Commission has already announced aid on top of all it is already doing (€15 million, for early and epidemiological screening and for the Pasteur Institute in Dakar). Christophe Grudler explained that telemedicine could be applied in Africa using space technology.
As for the objectives of sustainable development, all 5 MEPs stated that a transversal, integrated vision of all crises must be developed. We must anticipate the next crises, because there will be other crises in the future.
What message do you want to convey to the citizens? asks Alice Le Moal to conclude this long discussion. Members of European Parliament are uniting to deliver a collective message. To keep hope alive for Europe. Trust in collective intelligence. Show humanism. Used to long periods of confinement at sea (4 and a half months for her first circumnavigation of the world), Catherine Chabaud also gives practical advice: create small rituals, take care of yourself, and learn to let go by reading and listening to music. Human beings have incredible capacities. It is up to us to explore our potential. And, I promise, the European Union will do so too.