Original published by Renaissance on 26/05/2020
From the beginnings of the pandemic in Europe to the green recovery project, Renaissance MEPs have had an unprecedented influence in the European Parliament. Account of a success.
DRIVING THE MOMENTUM
While lockdown begins in France and Belgium in mid-March, Renaissance MEPs know that in this health crisis of considerable proportions, few are looking to the European Parliament. Moreover, while the Council, the Commission and the European Central Bank get to work, plenary sessions and meetings are cancelled, Parliament is put to sleep. Yet they are convinced that, at a time when European solidarity is more than necessary, even vital, the representatives of the European people have a role to play vis-à-vis the Heads of State and Government of the European Union, one of driving forward the momentum.
CREATING THE INSTRUMENTS OF SOLIDARITY
Their obsession? To avoid a repetition of the mistakes of the 2008 crisis and their consequences for the euro area. At that time, the countries from the North and the South of Europe were at odds on the question of solidarity and never before had the European Union been so close to the brink. However, in order to provide the best possible response to the socio-economic consequences of the coronavirus, there is no choice: we will have to show solidarity or disappear. To do this, Renaissance MEPs advocate for a great instrument of solidarity, the “Recovery Bonds”, i.e. the ability to borrow money and therefore invest to relaunch economies not just at the level of a single state but of the whole of Europe.
GETTING THE GROUP ON BOARD
Renaissance MEPs then produced an initial crisis response document, which was intended to serve as the basis for a European Parliament resolution. But for this text to be voted on, the entire Renew Europe group, to which Renaissance MEPs belong, must first be convinced. Things are not so easy: the representatives from Northern countries, even within Renew Europe, remain culturally opposed to the Recovery Bonds and the political cohesion of the young parliamentary group is put to the test. The dialogue and work on each other’s proposals, from the Spanish “economic bazooka” to the Estonian “helicopter money”, strengthened and further clarified the Recovery Bonds solution. And a clear majority emerged: Renew Europe would be able to propose a solid and concrete document to the other political forces in Parliament.
FORGING A MAJORITY
A compromise was reached in the following hours with the large groups in the European Parliament on the basis of this politically realistic, economically efficient and legally sound text. At the end of an exceptional plenary session held at a distance on 17 April, the representatives of the people of Europe voted by a very large majority in favour of this new resolution, which provided an economic and health response but also protected the rule of law. Centrists, socialists, conservatives, ecologists and even some eurosceptics agreed on one point: Europe had to act and it had to act strongly. German conservatives and Nordic parties supported the Recovery Bonds, they agreed that Europe should issue debt. However, this majority did not include the French MEPs from opposition parties who, by posturing or political calculation, voted against the text or abstained. This was an historic mistake.
Since then, the Heads of State and Government of the European Union have enshrined this principle of solidarity. The influence of the Renaissance MEPs has been real: the resolution voted by the European Parliament, thanks to Renaissance’s ability to propose concrete responses, helped to convince the European Council on 23 April. The Franco-German initiative of 18 May politically endorsed this new Europe, with a Germany ready, at last, to pool its debt for greater European integration. However, the fight is not over: Renaissance MEPs are mobilising so that the historic relaunch that Europe is preparing to unleash fully includes the transition to a decarbonised economy and reinforces European sovereignty.