Press Advisories

18. 2. 2009 9:27

Europe acting together can face up to the economic crisis

The ways to encourage a return to growth and job creation are the subject of a Joint Parliamentary Meeting organised by the EP and the Czech Parlament.

Strong European leadership to tackle the current crisis of confidence and investing in environmental protection projects will help soften the effects of economic slowdown, according to MEPs and national MPs.

MEPs and national parliamentarians from the 27 Member States and the candidate countries continued on Tuesday (February 17) their two-day Joint Parliamentary Meeting to discuss “A New Deal for European Economic Recovery?”

No to protectionism - yes to the euro

Speaking at the conclusion of the two-day debate, EP President Hans-Gert Pöttering said EU must "act together and find common answers" to the crisis. Protectionism, he said, could annihilate the advantages of the Single Market and create "the foundations for a disaster".

President Pöttering also expressed his support for the euro, without which, he said, the European economy would be in much greater trouble. "Everything we can do to maintain the stability of the European currency" has to be done, he said.

European Central Bank: "more speed and audacity" needed

"We are seeing a dramatic change, a revolution of ideas, similar to the one in 1929 or in 1973, the first oil shock" said José Manuel Garcia-Margallo (EPP-ED, ES) rapporteur for the working group on promoting investments, entrepreneurship and SMEs. Mr Garcia-Margallo said most of participants agreed that: "Restoring the credit market is an essential condition for ensuring that economies start functioning again"

The European Central Bank has a key role to play in facing the crisis, according to the working group, which called on the ECB for "more speed and more audacity" in reducing interest rates and for longer deadlines for paying back loans, said the rapporteur. He also stressed that reduced rates "have to be passed on to companies and local economies".

Crisis as a test for Europe

The current crisis represents a serious test for Europe, according to Lubomir Zaorálek, from the Czech Chamber of Deputies, on behalf of the working group on creating jobs, fighting poverty and ensuring free movement. Most of participants agreed that "Only a united and strong Europe can respond effectively to this crisis". He added that, "We need strong European leadership" to fight the economic slowdown. He stressed that the Lisbon Treaty is part of the solution and said that this evening (Tuesday) the Czech Chamber of Deputies will probably give a positive vote on the text.

According to the conclusions of this group, softening the impact of the crisis for the most vulnerable people is a primary objective. Greater use of financial instruments was also suggested. Mr Zaorálek mentioned in particular the idea of issuing Eurobonds as a possible way to finance public spending.

Crisis an opportunity to invest in green ekonomy

“The financial crisis and the economic recession are an opportunity to invest in climate protection measures" said Carina Adolfsson Elgestam, from the Swedish Riksdag, rapporteur for the third working group, on economic development and climate challenge. She said that some participants in debate "feared we might not meet our climate objectives" and called for more investments in this area. "We should demonstrate to the US that we want to maintain our lead in the world in responding to climate change", she said.

Investing to improve energy efficiency is another of the group’s conclusions. Increasing the energy efficiency of houses and buildings all over the EU would create new jobs, explained the rapporteur, while a common EU energy policy was also raised by many participants.

"We are all in the same boat"

Dealing with the effects of the global crisis is the most important task we have (...): everyone must be part of the solution: we are all in the same boat", said President in Office of the Council and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek.

To ensure coordination among the 27 Member States, it was necessary to organise an informal meeting of EU Heads of state and governments on 1st of March: "The current crisis is, to a large extent, a crisis of confidence: it has a major political dimension", said the Czech Prime Minister. Therefore, the solution to the crisis "is also a matter of politicians agreeing on common priorities".

Mr Topolánek set out his priorities for the informal summit: these included "clearing up toxic assets" and "ensuring banks resume lending to firm and households".

Member States ' to agree soon' on five billion euro energy investment

The 19-20 March European Council will see a crucial discussion on the implementation of the Recovery Plan, according to José Manuel Barroso, Commission President. The plan is "historically an amazing effort (...) to help economies to more again by restoring confidence".

Mr Barroso said the financial markets have to re-discover their original scope: serving as a support for growth and job creation. In addition, the Commission's proposal to redirect an unspent €5 billion to finance key energy projects would be the right step forward, said the Commission President: "I am confident there will soon be an agreement" on this.

The Joint Parliamentary Meeting will help inform the European Parliament’s contribution to the Spring EU summit on economic matters, to be held in Brussels on 19-20 March.

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