Europe Day: A new Beginning for Europe!
In the first days of May, we commemorate the end of the Second World War and the liberation from Nazi terror throughout Europe – including in Germany.
Germany started the war that claimed millions of lives. Germans committed unspeakable atrocities and devastated Europe.
And yet: After the war, men and women from all over Europe – many of them Social Democrats – were able to come together in the spirit of reconciliation.
Former enemies became friends and began to look to the future together. That is – perhaps – Europe’s greatest historic achievement.
Today we celebrate this new beginning. 70 years ago Robert Schuman made his famous declaration.
To Robert Schuman, forging the European community would take more than a single act. Instead, Europe would need to be built on many concrete acts of solidarity.
He was right. The European project means acting in solidarity. That is what we must work on every day. Preserving the peace, democracy, freedom and prosperity that we enjoy today.
This vision of Europe defines the European Union. And this vision does not allow us to be complacent. It requires politics.
We saw in the last financial crisis that coming up with a joint European answer was crucial. In the current crisis, too, we will act together – as Europeans.
In any crisis, acting timely and targeted is key. And that is exactly what we are doing now. EU finance ministers built a comprehensive 540 billion Euro aid package.
To shield Europe’s economy from Corona, we use instruments that we already have at our disposal, that are tested, and that work.
Through the ESM, we provide financial assistance to help European countries fight the pandemic and its fallout.
Through the EIB, we support European businesses, SMEs in particular. The EU COVID-19 guarantee fund will allow the EIB to scale up their engagement, providing loans and thereby much needed liquidity.
Through SURE, EU member states can lend money to support short-time work schemes. In essence, the program (that stands for Support Mitigating Unemployment Risks in Emergency) works similar to a European unemployment re-insurance system, like the one I proposed.
Together, we will take all necessary steps to weather this crisis. And we will also work together, to get Europe re-started. The EU will create a common fund to aid our speedy economic recovery.
In all this, we Social Democrats stand for solidarity. This is our message. And it is as important today as it was 70 years ago.
Solidarity means work. So let’s get to work!