During the extraordinary plenary session that took place on 26 March, Renew Europe MEPs supported the European Commission’s “Corona Response Investment Initiative”, which will make €37 billion of Cohesion Funds available to Member States to help tackling the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.
The new measures aim, inter alia, to support SMEs by alleviating serious liquidity shortages and by strengthening investments in products and services necessary to back, for example, health services. They enable, among other modifications, to extend the scope of the EU Solidarity Fund to public health emergencies. While Renew Europe strongly welcomes the European Commission’s commitment to fight this pandemic and will give its consent to its proposals, more concrete and EU-wide measures will have to follow shortly in order to have a comprehensive response to this crisis.
Susana Solis Perez MEP, Renew Europe’s Shadow Rapporteur on both REGI-files, said:
“At these difficult times, we must show a united Europe and I believe that the package of measures proposed by the Commission is a good first step in the right direction but it is not enough. That is why, on behalf of the Renew REGI team, we are sending a letter to Commissioner Ferreira to highlight the points we consider most important for the expected upcoming modifications. The funds have to be flexible enough to provide assistance to healthcare systems, to SMEs and to reduce the negative impact on employment as much as possible.”
Ondřej Knotek, MEP, Coordinator of the Committee on Regional Development, added:
"These measures are a positive and much-needed answer to the COVID-19 crisis, which is putting our health care system and economy under high pressure. A strong and comprehensive European response is more than ever needed. The EU must lead and closely coordinate the response with Members States and give them as much flexibility as possible to prevent negative effects on our health care systems and on our economy. Renew Europe is ready to take all necessary steps for fast track decisions if and when needed."
The measures, which will be adopted today, will also introduce additional flexibility to direct the use of the current European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) by inserting “public health crisis" as an incident allowing Member States to grant financial compensation through mutual funds to fishers and aquaculture producers for economic losses – as is already foreseen for climate or environmental incidents.
Pierre Karleskind MEP, Chair of the European Parliament's Fisheries Committee, commented:
“The first package of the European Commission is a good start and might be helpful in some countries for the fishery and aquaculture sectors. Nonetheless, we have to work on more measures, such as temporary cessations for fishermen and aquaculture producers who have to interrupt their activities due to the crisis, as well as on storage aids. We need these sectors to secure healthy food for the entire Union, especially during this difficult crisis."