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What Europe Must Now Do – DiEM25’s Progressive European Policy Agenda for the 2020s

01/04/2021

Covid-19 has unveiled the EU’s lack of institutions that can address a public health crisis. It has also confirmed that the EU continues to lack the institutions necessary to reduce the economic imbalances which undermine the Union, suppress investment and cause preventable economic failures that undercut the life prospects of the majority of Europeans. Lastly, the EU has failed to make Europe safer. By refusing to terminate its reliance on fossil fuels, the EU has reinforced geopolitical tensions, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean.

DiEM25 is now working on a Progressive Agenda focusing on PUBLIC HEALTH, SHARED PROSPERITY, and GREEN PEACE. Our Agenda comprises policies drawn from DiEM25’s comprehensive Green New Deal for Europe as well as policy initiatives honed at the outset of the 2020 pandemic.

[Nb. The text below is now subject to consultation by DiEM25 members, National Collectives and Electoral Wings across Europe. Its final version, including proposed amendments, will be put to an all-member vote in the last week of May.]

Decent Public Health, Shared Prosperity & a Green Peace

Public Health

European public health can no longer remain within the ‘competence’ of nation-states. The pandemic demonstrated that, unless the EU provides basic health services (e.g. vaccines) to all its citizens equally and efficiently, the Union is unsafe – some would say pointless.

The pandemic demonstrated that the EU must guarantee its citizens equal access to facilities that provide free testing, free vaccines and free primary care. Basic goods (e.g. test kits, vaccines, protective equipment) must be procured centrally and sizeable stocks must be in place everywhere within well-functioning public health systems and networks.

Mindful of Europe’s duty to non-European countries in its neighbourhood and beyond, the EU must also donate such basic public health goods to developing countries far and wide. All these basic goods are to be paid for using the ECB’s monetary firepower, not the member-states’ stressed budgets.

In the interest of civil liberties and to ensure its citizens the basic privacy rights that Europeans have earned the hard way over centuries of struggles, in times of health emergencies, like the present one, the EU must tread carefully. DiEM25 supports digital technologies which can facilitate an effective track and trace system during a pandemic while safeguarding anonymity. However, DiEM25 is utterly opposed to the exploitation of such emergencies in the interests of corporations and states seeking make citizens transparent, while they remain opaque. In this context, DiEM25 opposes all vaccination certificates or passports which open up a Pandora’s Box of civil liberty violations by insurance companies, employers and state agencies.

Shared Prosperity

During the Covid-19 pandemic, compared to the US, China and the UK, the Eurozone suffered the largest drop in investment, the greatest capital flight, and the largest increase in its output gap (i.e. difference between potential and actual production). Moreover, Europe’s internal imbalances (which were the cause of the massive Euro Crisis) have grown exponentially. Despite this, Europe has administered the smallest stimulus in the developed world and has done the least to bolster investment – relying almost entirely on a so-called Recovery Fund that is macroeconomically insignificant and politically poisonous. As a result, the 2020s are shaping as a second Lost European Decade.

To prevent this, and to give shared European prosperity a chance, DiEM25 has proposed – and is doing so again – four policies:

  • ECB-Bonds to lessen the strain on member-state budgets: All primary budget deficits since March 2020 to be financed by means of 30-year bonds issued by the ECB (ECB-bonds), ensuring that the new pandemic-induced national debt does not weigh down already overburdened national budgets. The 30-year-long maturity of the ECB-bonds will function as an added incentive for a proper democratic political union to emerge within three decades. Additionally, we envisage perpetual ECB-issued bonds, to be exchanged with member-state bonds, for the purposes of restructuring even deeper the debt burden caused by the outbreak of the Euro Crisis in 2010.

  • Solidarity Cash Payments: The ECB injects a €2000 European Solidarity Cash Payment to the primary bank account of every European resident. This can be repeated whenever necessary, replacing all ECB corporate bond-purchases.

  • European Green Recovery & Investment Program: The EU to direct the European Investment Bank (EIB), and its subsidiary the European Investment Fund (EIF), to issue annually EIB-EIF bonds approximately equal to 5% of the EU’s GDP, to be backed in the bond markets by the ECB. The monies will fund a new European Green Works Agency whose remit is to build up the EU’s necessary Green Energy Union and to fund the EU’s Green Transition

  • Rescinding all post-2010 austerity conditionalities: The EU countries worst hit by the pandemic also happen to be the ones worst hit by the savage austerity and privatisation programs that the troika imposed upon them directly or indirectly since 2010. All these ‘conditionalities’ now act as a drag upon the whole of the EU and must be rescinded immediately.

Green Peace in Europe’s neighbourhood

In 2020 the EU officially endorsed a so-called ‘Green Deal’. Regrettably, it was endorsed “more in the breach than in the observance”: No real funding was ever put aside for this ‘Green Deal’ and, worse still, the EU continues to pursue the extraction and distribution of fossil fuels in a manner that increases geopolitical tensions.

In particular, plans to extract oil and gas in the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean are causing geopolitical tensions that only benefit arms dealers and the financial vultures who profit from ‘securitising’ fossil fuels and gas pipelines and that will, most probably, not even see the light of day. They also fuel the pre-existing migration crisis by turning Turkey against the EU and vice versa. Meanwhile, in Europe’s North East, Nordstream2 is causing new tensions and new dependencies on regimes and industries that have nothing good to offer the majority of Europeans. For Peace’s sake, and for the sake of European security and sovereignty, this must end.

DiEM25 proposes an EU initiative to bring Peace and Shared Green Prosperity to all the peoples of the Mediterranean. We are campaigning for the EU to call a Peace and Green Energy Mediterranean Summit. The idea is for all Mediterranean countries to sit around the same table with a view to achieving the following:

  • Encourage all participants to declare the Mediterranean a fossil fuel free zone (i.e. no new drilling and no new gas pipelines) and to work towards building a joint Green Energy Union

  • Mark, on the same map, each country’s claim regarding its sea borders (e.g. continental shelf, economic zone)

  • Agree collectively to take any remaining competing claims to the International Court at the Hague on condition that the Court’s decision will be accepted as final by all participants

  • Provided the above have been achieved, the EU will fund, via the European Investment Bank and other investment vehicles (e.g. see 2.2.3 above), the lion’s share of a Green Energy Union incorporating the EU, the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Summary

The EU will either unify to confront the prospect of another lost decade, or it will perish. DiEM25’s Progressive European Policy Agenda for the 2020s offers the only path toward unification. The three sets of policies we propose are immediately implementable and consistent with the letter of the EU Treaties. They promise:

  • To share the burden of safeguarding public health across Europe

  • To extend this duty to developing countries in recognition of the pandemic’s main lesson, namely that viruses respect no borders

  • To share the pandemic-induced public debt burden between EU member-states, while rescinding the institutionalised austerity left over from the Euro Crisis

  • To deliver the public green investments necessary for a sustainable Europe

  • To pay for Europe’s recovery and health using existing monetary financing tools which, currently, fund the oligarchy instead of public health, public goods and programs in the public interest

Only DiEM25’s Progressive European Policy Agenda for the 2020s offers Europe a chance to become a genuine, democratic Union. The only other option is disintegration.

Appendix: DiEM25’s post-Pandemic Progressive Policy Agenda in bullets

  1. PUBLIC HEALTH
    • The provision of basic health goods becomes an EU duty
    • A new EU Network of Public Primary Health Care Centres easily accessible to every EU citizen offering:
      • free testing on demand
      • free vaccinations on demand
      • general practice care free at the point of delivery
    • Centralised procurement for:
      • test kits
      • vaccines, including the purchase of patents so as to facilitate local production
      • basic medicines
      • protective equipment
    • EU commits to providing to developing countries, free of charge, as many test kits, vaccines, basic medicines and protective equipment quantities as it has procured for Europeans
    • Direct funding of 1.2,1.3&1.4 above utilising ECB instruments (e.g. ECB bonds, EU perpetuals to be purchased by the ECB)
    • Vaccination passports and/or certificates are banned, to protect basic privacy rights. Instead, the EU funds the development of applications (Apps) that allow for an efficient track-and-trace system, securing anonymity, to be incorporated in the EU network of public primary health care units mentioned in 1.2 above.
  2. SHARED PROSPERITY
    • ECB-Bonds to lessen the strain on member-state budgets: All primary budget deficits since March 2020 to be financed by means of 30-year bonds issued by the ECB (ECB-bonds), ensuring that the new pandemic-induced national debt does not weigh down already overburdened national budgets. The 30-year-long maturity of the ECB-bonds will function as an added incentive for a proper democratic political union to emerge within three decades
    • Solidarity Cash Payments: The ECB injects a €2000 European Solidarity Cash Payment to the primary bank account of every European resident. This can be repeated whenever necessary, replacing all ECB corporate bond-purchases
    • European Green Recovery & Investment Program: The EU to direct the European Investment Bank (EIB), and its subsidiary the European Investment Fund (EIF), to issue annually EIB-EIF bonds approximately equal to 5% of the EU’s GDP, to be backed in the bond markets by the ECB. The monies will fund a new European Green Works Agency whose remit is to build up the EU’s necessary Green Energy Union and to fund the EU’s Green Transition
    • Rescinding all post-2010 austerity conditionalities: The EU countries worst hit by the pandemic also happen to be the ones worst hit by the savage austerity and privatisation programs that the troika imposed upon them directly or indirectly since 2010. All these ‘conditionalities’ now act as a drag upon the whole of the EU and must be rescinded immediately.
  3. GREEN PEACE
  • The EU to call a Peace and Green Energy Mediterranean Summit involving all Mediterranean countries for the purposes of
    • declaring the Mediterranean a fossil fuel free zone
    • working towards joint EU-Mediterranean Green Energy Union incorporating the EU, the Middle East and Northern Africa
    • delineating each country’s claim regarding its sea borders (continental shelf, economic zone)
    • agreeing to take any remaining competing claims to the International Court at the Hague for binding arbitration
  • The EU will fund, via the European Investment Bank and other investment vehicles the lion’s share of the EU-Mediterranean Green Energy Union a Green Energy Union.
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