Marshall Plan II: EU Employs Unprecedented Measures to Deal with COVID-19 Crisis

Written by | Monday, March 23rd, 2020

MEPs will debate and vote during an extraordinary session of the European Parliament on 26 March on the first three legislative proposals of the European Commission whereby the proposed measures are designed to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.The move was announced on Thursday (19 March) by European Parliament President David Sassoli, who said the EU measures were “comparable to the Marshall plan” in the wake of the World War II. The agenda of the first ever plenary session, which will use a remote voting system, will be the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (€37 billion of the Cohesion funds made available to member states to address the consequences of the crisis); a legislative proposal to extend the scope of the EU Solidarity Fund to cover public health emergencies, and a Commission proposal to stop the so-called ghost flights caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We are talking about an intervention that, overall, is close to €2 trillion. The greatest demonstration of the power of European solidarity in a long time. Comparable to the Marshall plan, the programme that helped us get back from the ruins of World War II,” Sassoli stressed. Meanwhile, in a bid to stop a pandemic-induced financial rout from shredding the eurozone’s economy, the European Central Bank (ECB) on Wednesday (18 March) launched a 750 billion euro bond-buying programme.Italian Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri praised the ECB’s move but warned on Friday (20 March) that monetary policy is not enough to stave off economic disaster, suggesting that EU bonds were needed to fight the coronavirus emergency hobbling the bloc’s economies. “We are facing a symmetrical shock that affects everyone and therefore we need to use the tools we have in an innovative way,”Gualtieri said.
In a once-of-a-kind televised nationwide address delivered on Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the fight against the coronavirus as Germany’s greatest challenge since the end of WWII and called on German citizens to recognize the gravity posed by the pandemics and to do their part in helping to slow its spread. Merkel‘s speech came one day after her government instituted restrictive measures in an attempt to curb the spread of the infection that has already brought parts of the economy to a virtual halt. German carmakers – Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW – are all shuttering their European plants as the virus takes a toll on demand and supply chains. The virus adds to the woes of the country’s auto industry, already reeling from pollution concerns, exacerbated by the Dieselgate emissions scandal, waning global demand, higher tariffs caused by US-China trade tensions and a costly transition to electric and self-driving cars. The industry has announced tens of thousands of job cuts in the past few months.

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