News & Media

Howlin calls for EU funds to help the recovery from the Coronavirus Crisis

25 March 2020

Statement by Brendan Howlin TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Northern Ireland

Labour Party Leader, Brendan Howlin TD, has called for action at European level to assist Ireland and other member states with the economic fallout from the coronavirus epidemic.

Deputy Howlin said:

“The coronavirus pandemic is the biggest test yet for the EU. We must avoid repeating the mistakes of the 2008 crash, where European supports put member states under unfair pressure that slowed economic recovery and imposed unnecessary hardship.

“I support the Party of European Socialists’ call for a range of measures so that all member states can access funding for vital health and social supports, and to support their domestic economies. This includes low interest loans and direct access to funding through a modified European Stability Mechanism (ESM). However, EU supports must be flexible and realistic. If too many constraints or conditions are placed on member states, now or in a few years’ time, these supports will not be useful and will lead to long-term economic damage.

“I particular support the call for the adoption of an EU-wide reinsurance scheme, to provide additional support to national unemployment insurance mechanisms, which are under strain. This will ensure that the current high demand for unemployment payments does not bankrupt existing mechanisms.

“I also support the development of Health Crisis Bonds to be issued at EU level, backed by the European Central Bank. This would allow all member states to borrow money collectively, for the purpose of buying much-needed medical supplies and to provide a cash flow to pay for medical personnel during this crisis.

“Unlike 2008, all EU member states are equally affected by the coronavirus. Now is the time for innovation at European level, based on solidarity, to strengthen the EU’s capacity to defeat the coronavirus and to rebuild the European economy on a more sustainable, fairer basis than before. When we rebuild the economy, it should include a Climate New Deal and a much greater flexibility to benefit workers rather than companies, including the right to work from home and more flexible working hours.

“It should also be made clear to citizens that we will use innovative measures, such as growing the size of the EU budget through new company taxes at EU level, to fund these measures rather than imposing them on citizens again. The people cannot be asked to fund another recovery when the money to do so can be found elsewhere.

“Citizens should not be required to bail out the banks again. Instead European money should be made available to ensure that people enjoy a quick recovery in their personal circumstances once the health crisis has ended.”