During this time of health and economic emergency,
R&D is calling the European Commission to be back as the true engine of European Integration and to play a key role in this crisis
Dear President von der Leyen,
R&D, the largest Trade Union representing the staff of the EU Institutions, Executive and Decentralised agencies and other EU bodies, is following with great concern the debate on how to effectively tackle the coronavirus pandemic at the EU level.
All over the Union, governments have taken bold measures to prevent the virus from spreading further.
Even so, and far from being over, thousands of people lost their lives in this battle.
The lockdown has radically changed the lives of us all in many ways and at every latitude.
Just to mention a few: schools, universities and public offices are closed, cultural and sport events have been postponed and shops, restaurants, large factories, SMEs, self-employed and many others are facing exceptional challenges that will certainly lead to many bankruptcies and unprecedented unemployment rates.
Above all, nobody knows how long this situation will last and this is quite disturbing.
There is one thing we know for sure though: what was forecasted at the beginning as a mere — and possibly containable — health epidemic is becoming day after day an economic emergency, with political and macroeconomic consequences worse than those of a depression.
Besides, all scholars in various fields (whether they are interventionists or more predisposed to a laissez-faire liberal approach) are unanimous: each Member State is not able to fix the COVID-19 crisis alone.
It goes without saying that a collective awakening must emerge. More than ever, the EU, and, in particular, the European Commission, has to play a key role, acting once again as the true engine of the European Integration process.
We, as staff of the EU Institutions, have remained silent for a long time in the past few years during various past crises, which have constantly been undermining the credibility of our Institutions, such as the 2008 recession and the subsequent sovereign debt crisis, not to mention the migration crisis and Brexit.
All of these crises should have been taken as wake-up calls and opportunities to show that those lessons had been learned.
Have all actions been taken to invert the inevitable decline? We do not think so!
Proof of this lies in the anti-EU sentiment that has risen all over Europe (and is still rising at this very moment) due to the, at times, not completely erroneous perception of “Brussels being more interested in checking commas and figures, rather than truly caring for the lives of its citizens”.
Whereas in a continent of peace and prosperity the anticipation of this threat no longer existed in European consciousness, it is today revealing itself as an enormous weakness.
The short-termism of economic performance has overthrown long-term vision and anticipation, thus eradicating the strategic dimension of political existence.
Collective awakening is more than necessary today: the Commission, in particular, and the European Institutions, in general, play an essential part, if not in their survival, in this awareness.
Swift and decisive action need to be taken this time, demonstrating EU-wide solidarity!
And this can be shaped into the form of a considerably bigger EU budget proposal, the change of the mandate of the ECB, new forms of unconventional monetary policy or all of these proposals, put into force together or in smart sequencing.
Failure to do so will result in no other opportunities for a wake-up call in line with the dream of the Founding Fathers.
Rather, it will be the funeral toll for the most ambitious political construction ever witnessed by humankind.
The cheap theatre play reported by all newspapers at the last European Council, where some Member States acted as “the best pupils in the class” thinking that the COVID-19 pandemic is a problem of those suffering the most, has dismayed public opinion.
This cannot be tolerated any longer, especially by the Institution which should be the guardian of the Treaties and the engine of the European Integration and common policies, including our foreign and security one!
The show has been so poor that even somebody reluctant to intervene in the public debate such as former French European Commission President Jacques Delors has felt the urge to declare, “Little solidarity is a mortal danger for the European Union”.
More than ever, R&D is calling for true European Solidarity and is therefore:
- Calling on you, as the President of the European Commission and the College to coordinate immediately all of the actions in the health field, to further prevent the death toll from rising, not only in the critical fields of logistics and of valuable restrictive measures, but also by supporting initiatives for the immediate use of novel promising therapeutic means. Some actions, such as the common stock of medical equipment, are going in the right direction, but we ask for much more.
- Calling on you, as the President of the European Commission and the College, to work hand in hand with the European Parliament, in order to find a solution to the shameful bottlenecks that emerged in the last European Council, faster than the two-week deadline. We call for additional measures including a European guarantee and extra funding for the sanitary emergency, research, social help and economic recovery.
- Calling on you, as the President of the European Commission and the College, to act with the mindset that the oath to act in the best interest of the Union is now, more than ever, diametrically opposite to a mere and empty formula.
- Calling on you, as President of the European Commission, and the College to act together with all EU political representatives and EU staff to defend the European integration, through solidarity, dialogue, mutual understanding and support among European countries.
On behalf of R&D FEDERAL,
Cristiano Sebastiani, R&D Commission, Executive and Decentralised agencies, other EU bodies
Beatrice Postiglione, R&D Council
Pasquale Ciuffreda, R&D European Parliament
Oren Wolff, R&D EEAS
Dimitrios Katsanidis, R&D CoR and EESC
D. Sassoli, President of the European Parliament
C. Michel, President of the European Council
College of Commissioners