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Europe's way out of the Corona crisis: From economic reconstruction to a European sense of community


The advantages and disadvantages of the EU recovery program were discussed by European law expert René Repasi and MEP Sven Schulze. Moreover, it is necessary to deepen European integration and strengthen the European sense of community.

Germany and France propose a 500-billion-euro credit program for the EU's economic recovery after the Corona crisis, and the European Commission raises it to 750 billion euros. Then there are the four "thrifts" Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, for whom all of this is going much too far. The online citizens' dialogue on the future of the EU after Corona could not have been more exciting or more to the point. The Europa Union Deutschland e.V., the regional association of Saxony-Anhalt and the JEF Saxony-Anhalt had jointly invited the public to attend on May 27 as part of the citizens' dialogue series "Europe - We need to talk!

With the European lawyer René Repasi and the Saxony-Anhalt MEP Sven Schulze, two proven European experts answered the questions of the participants from all over Germany for an hour and a half.

The advantage of the reconstruction program, he said, was above all that there would be no conditionality, i.e., demands for structural reforms. In the past, such demands had often led to member states making their healthcare systems more market-based, for example, with the result that hospital beds had been cut that would now be lacking in the Corona crisis.

On the downside, Schulze countered, many states see the program's provision for debt by 2058. He believes it is unlikely that the European Parliament will approve the proposed reconstruction program without any changes to its current form. The interests of the member states are too different for that, he said. He assumes a compromise compared to the Commission proposal in order to adopt the reconstruction program. After all, everyone would want to get out of the crisis quickly.

Schulze: "The task of the European Union is to bring Europe forward again in the next few years." The parliament has an outstanding role to play in this, the politician stressed in response to a question about the role of the European Parliament after the Corona crisis.

The crisis had shown that it was necessary to further deepen European integration. This includes economic and fiscal policy, Repasi said. Even independently of Corona, 50 percent of the aid approved by the European Commission is currently granted in Germany. A divergence of the Union on the basis of differing financial strength was therefore imminent if efforts for a common economic policy were not strengthened, he said. In line with this, one participant asked about the conference on the future of Europe and how it would proceed. Under the new conditions, this would be carried out with new formats. On the other hand, the basic questions connected with the conference and which had led to its initiation had not changed, which is why the conference as such must be maintained, according to the unanimous opinion of the speakers.

Also discussed was the ruling of the German Constitutional Court on the bond purchases of the European Central Bank, which at least partially calls them into question and also limits the competences of the European Court of Justice. Although Repasi was critical of the ruling, the constitutional lawyer was nevertheless able to take something positive from it: "A reform of the European treaties is necessary." Political actors would have to join forces and find a political solution. However, one participant in the online discussion also raised the question of how common positions could generally be reached in the EU, given that there were so many particular interests of the member states. One answer to this question was obvious: to strengthen people's sense of community and bring them together even more.

In this context, one participant appreciated the format of webinars and online conferences, which have an opportunity for greater participation than localized face-to-face events. The Corona crisis has caused the importance of online meetings to rise, Schulze responded. "After the crisis, there will be more online events than before, although their number will not remain at the current level," Sven Schulze predicted.

"You can grow from any crisis," was René Repasi's summary. Webinars would be part of that, and they have become very important for exchange.

About the Civil Dialogues project: Citizens talk to experts and politicians in independent, objective and open-ended discussions. The goal is to participate in the European project and to critically and constructively participate in the current discourse.

Image copyright: Unsplash, Europa-Union