News & Media

Howlin questions Finance Minister on EU Covid-19 funds

20 May 2020

Statement by Brendan Howlin TD
Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Brexit, Northern Ireland and Justice

In the Dáil today, Labour’s Brendan Howlin TD questioned the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure in relation to EU COVID-19 funds.

Deputy Howlin said:

“We must learn from the experience of the last crisis where, unfortunately, there was a distinct lack of solidarity across the European Union towards those countries worst affected by the global economic crisis, including Ireland. This time, we must ensure that the response to the economic effects of COVID-19 must be built on the principle of solidarity.

“No one would choose austerity when there is an alternative. Unlike in the past, there is a viable alternative source of funding to rebuild our economy following COVID-19, and the Government must make sure it succeeds.

“There is a glimmer of hope in the Franco-German proposal for the EU to borrow €500 billion and to provide most of it as grants to the member states worst affected by COVID-19. This is a good start but not enough, as Labour and fellow parties of the Party of European Socialists had sought a European Recovery Fund of at least €1.5 trillion. Hopefully, once the principle of EU self-funding debt is agreed, the fund can be enhanced in future years.

“I agree with President Von der Leyen’s proposal that the entire €500 billion fund will be channelled through existing EU programmes, as this will make it quicker to roll out. It will also give the European Parliament the same oversight over the recovery fund as it has over the regular Multiannual Financial Framework of the EU.

“The fund is not yet guaranteed to be agreed by all member states. I welcome Minister Pascal Donohoe’s support for this fund, and I hope he will use all his influence to convince the small number of member states who remain opposed to the concept of EU-level bonds or ‘Eurobonds’.”