EU leaders must protect the European economy, whatever it takes
Ahead of the video conference of the members of the European Council on 26 March 2020, BusinessEurope President Pierre Gattaz made the following comments: "European leaders have a historic opportunity this week to put EU solidarity, action and responsibility at the heart of our response to the crisis. Europe’s long-term prosperity can only be safeguarded if European leaders do everything it takes to preserve our Economic and Monetary Union and our Single Market. Both are fundamental to the prosperity of our economy, of our workers and of their companies."
BusinessEurope Director General, Markus J. Beyrer added: "Ensuring that we preserve as many companies and jobs as possible through this massive crisis will be key to reducing its long-term economic impact. The ECB has taken decisive action to support financial stability and our common currency. The Council and member states must now follow the ECB’s lead, including through putting in place an ambitious and co-ordinated fiscal stimulus."
While authorities must take all the necessary steps to stop COVID-19 from spreading, it is also essential to:
- Increase flexibility and clarity of state aid rules regarding the support beyond €800,000 that will be required for many of the larger companies affected by the crisis.
- Take all necessary steps to ensure transportation of goods across the single market are not blocked. This means urgently removing export bans recently introduced by some member states on personal protective equipment, medical equipment and medical devices, reducing waiting times at intra-EU borders with harmonised solutions for trucks, and maintaining the mobility of cross-border workers, rapidly implementing the Green Lanes initiative.
- Put in place a coordinated EU approach on what constitutes critical infrastructure and essential goods and services.
- Urgently develop an EU industrial conversion plan to quickly increase production of key goods, including across the entire medical supply chains. Companies seeking to re-orient their production towards essential goods must be supported by temporary derogations from normal regulatory requirements and faster authorisation and certification procedures. Maintaining industrial activity at large is critical to minimise disruptions.
- Ensure that international trade flows are maintained, given increasing risks that export bans around the world on essential medical supplies are creating additional supply shortages.
- Postpone non-essential EU public consultations and proposals given the need to concentrate all efforts on combating the COVID19 crisis".