Today, the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament held a virtual exchange of views with German SPD party leader Norbert Walter-Borjans to discuss the up-coming German EU-Council Presidency and how to ensure a fair recovery from the fall-out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Iratxe García, S&D Group leader said:
“We had an in-depth and stimulating exchange with SPD party leader Norbert Walter-Borjans on how to ensure that we will tackle the post-COVID-19 crisis with a fair recovery that leaves no one behind. We share the same views and in our group we are confident that as of July 1st the beating heart of the German EU presidency will be the SPD. Our comrades already made the difference over the last weeks to uplift the tone and ambition of the German government, and they will keep pushing for the protection and the progress that Europeans are thirsting for.
“Europe will stand or fall with the Recovery Plan. Last time the blind and heartless austerity brought bonuses to those speculators who had originated the crisis while the most vulnerable ones were left on their own. We will not allow this to happen again. The money should go where it is most needed: in our hardest hit regions and sectors, and only to companies that pay their taxes in the EU, not in some fiscal haven. No tax-payer money for tax cheaters. That, and the respect of the rule of law, should be the only conditionality.”
SPD party-leader Norbert Walter-Borjans said:
“Europe is much more than an economic community. Europe is foremost a cultural and peace project: that the people in this community of states did not have to suffer war for the past 75 years is the most important achievement of European integration. Our ancestors were never so lucky.
“The Corona pandemic is arguably the biggest challenge since the foundation of the EU and a severe test for European cohesion. Only with more solidarity between member states will we be able to contain the risks and generate a boost for jobs and the economy. With the EU Council Presidency we will do our best to use this opportunity for a social, solidary and sustainable Europe, which has democracy and the rule-of-law as its supporting pillars.”
Jens Geier, leader of German SPD delegation in the European Parliament, added:
“The SPD party leadership and the social democrat ministers in government enabled progress to strengthen Europe. In the coalition committee they managed to urge the chancellery to adopt a position, that for the first time discards the supposedly iron German dogmas about EU financial instruments. That achievement breaks new ground. The merit for this move falls largely to the SPD lead by Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken. If hard hit regions benefit from grants and not only loans for their recovery, this could decisively strengthen the cohesion of the European Union during the COVID-19 crisis.
“During their first physical meeting, since the beginning of the pandemic, on the 17th and 18th of July, EU member states will have to negotiate the proposal for a European Recovery Plan, which lives up to the demands of this unprecedented crisis thanks to the pressure exerted by the Social Democrats. European solidarity is the right answer to right-wing populism and nationalism. In contrast to many conservatives, the European Green Deal and a fair Digitalisation are our road-map for leaving the Corona crisis behind us in order to transform Europe into a sustainable and social, just and climate-neutral continent.”