2020: The year Europe changed
During 2020 I worked tirelessly for a common European economic response to the COVID-19 crisis. Here I explain how I contributed to this ambitious project.
Protecting millions of jobs
At the beginning of the crisis we proposed €500 billion to strengthen our healthcare systems, support the liquidity of our companies and, through a new instrument we called the European Employment Protection Mechanism, finance employment protection at the European level. These three measures, totaling 540 billion, were approved by European leaders in April.
Towards a European reconstruction fund
Together with Guy Verhofstadt, we proposed for the first time the creation of a European Reconstruction Fund that would give transfers (and not loans) to countries financed by perpetual debt to be repaid with new own resources of the Union.
From paper to reality
A couple of weeks later, the Spanish government took this idea and presented its own proposal for a recovery strategy also based on transfers and not on public debt. Both EL PAIS and The Financial Times acknowledged that the EU bond issue was first proposed by Guy and I, and then adopted by other governments.
Strong support from Parliament
In April, a resolution was tabled that sought to finance the recovery through “an increased MFF, existing EU funds and financial instruments and recovery bonds guaranteed by the EU budget.” This was a key paragraph that reflected all the intellectual work behind this idea.
Parliament stands together for European investments
In May a second resolution was adopted and tabled by five different political groups (historic backing, 505 votes in favor) calling on the Commission and the Council for an ambitious plan along these same lines worth 2 trillion euros.
750 billion to transform Europe
In May, Germany and France presented their plan, and as requested by the Parliament, 500 billion in transfers were included. Following the Council’s agreement, the Parliament congratulated the States on the 750 billion euro recovery fund adopted.
A common endeavor
I am honored to have helped build European solutions to combat the economic effects of the pandemic and to receive recognition from my colleagues.
Spending, but well
Almost a year after the start of the pandemic, the Parliament adopted the agreement I negotiated on the regulation determining how to spend the funds. This ensures that the money is spent on reforms that will help improve the lives of citizens.