Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has reportedly said that the European Union has to rise to the coronavirus challenge or the countries will ‘fail as a union’. Talking to major newspapers across Europe, Sanchez said that Spain has reached a critical juncture at which even the most fervently pro-European countries and governments need real ‘proof of commitment’. Sanchez’s comments come amid the bitter stand-off between several EU states over the financing of the European recovery once the coronavirus pandemic recedes.
Writing to the newspapers, Sanchez reportedly described the virus as an ‘invisible enemy’ that is putting the future of the European project to the test. He said that without solidarity there can be no cohesion, without cohesion, there will be disaffection and the credibility of the European project will be severely damaged. He added that the current plans such as the European Central Banks’s bond-buying program are not enough.
Furthermore, Sanchez said that Europe must build a wartime economy and promote European resistance, reconstruction and recovery, essentially a new ‘Marshall Plan’ which will require the backing of all the EU’s common institution. He added that the European solidarity has to ensure that there are no gaps between north and south, and they leave no country behind.
Meanwhile, after a request from Italy and eight other countries to issue ‘recovery bonds’ on behalf of all eurozone countries to help fund efforts to rebuild national economies that are expected to dive deep into recession, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen reportedly said that the EU will allocate up to 100 billion euros to the hardest-hit countries, starting with Italy in a bid to help cover the cost of lost wages and to preserve jobs. She also said that the commission also wanted to make sure that every euro still available in the EU’s annual budget is spent on tackling the coronavirus crisis.
With the 100 billion euros scheme, the EU chief said that it would keep people in work and will enable companies to return to the market with renewed vigour. She added that the commission will provide loans to those member states that need them to strengthen their short-time work schemes.