Coronavirus and Parliaments of Europe – continued
The Mercator European Dialogue brought into being the MP-Call series “Parliaments in times of Corona” to offer Parliamentarians a space for informal, inter-parliamentary exchanges amidst this unprecedented crisis.
The main takeaways and highlights of this first MP-Call on “Parliaments in times of Corona” can be found here.
This second call took place on the 8th of April. 15 Members of Parliament from 11 European countries, including Hungary, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Lithuania, France, Poland, Sweden, Portugal, Greece, and Denmark, got together to discuss European solidarity during the Corona crisis.
During the call, parliamentarians shared and discussed emerging priorities and topics of interest across countries and party lines, as well as ideas and updates on the measures parliaments are adopting to continue exercising their function effectively.
Please find highlights from the second call as well as open initiatives by members of the Mercator European Network below.
Highlights of the conversation:
Identification of emerging priorities. Ensuring the functionality of parliaments during the pandemic and seeking economic responses to the crisis emerged as the two priorities during the discussions. Parliamentarians focused on possible reactions to cases of executive overreach, approaches to manage upcoming elections, the need to map out measures taken by member states to absorb the economic shock, as well as the need to develop a deeper understanding of the sectors and industries in need of more considerable assistance.
Rehabilitating the role of Parliaments. Parliamentarians issued a warning about the need to fight negative stereotypes towards the role of parliamentarians in such a crisis. As parliaments currently seem “out of the picture” in many EU countries, participants discussed initiatives put in place by parliaments to show the proximity of institutions to citizens during challenging times. Among the examples shared was the use of Facebook live updates from party groups organized centrally by the Parliament, rather than individual parliamentarians. Parliamentarians agreed on the recommendation to communicate clearly to citizens how the work in committees (or plenary sessions) is continuing, describing measures adopted to oversee the government via hearings and inquiries, even if done so remotely.
Best-practice sharing: Parliaments upholding operation and function. In Sweden, parliament voting still takes place in person but with a maximum of 55 Parliamentarians in plenary. Parties are represented proportionally and responsible for selecting members that will participate in the voting process. Exceptionally, committee meetings are open to being joined by all parliamentarians to bring their party position to the table and ask questions. Parliamentarians discuss pressing issues during regular online meetings.
Best-practice sharing: Measures to support national economies. Countries are implementing different approaches to support their economy within Europe. Notably, parliamentarians quoted examples from Germany and Denmark in the discussion. In Germany, developments surrounding the virus have forced society to face unprecedented challenges. Freelancers, employers and employees alike struggle to come to terms with this new and unexpected situation. The German federal government has put in place a massive bailout program for individual freelancers and small companies with up to 10 employees in Germany that have been hard-hit by the coronavirus crisis. In Denmark, the government has announced moves to cover 75% of wage bills, helping companies struggling in the face of a slowing economy caused by the virus. The offer lasts for three months and aims to encourage firms to send home employees rather than fire them.
Open initiatives by MED members:
www.insieme-together.eu/ launched by our members Lars Castellucci, Angela Schirò, Franziska Brantner, and signed by over 30 members of the MED network, is a call for and from Parliamentarians to advocate for more European Solidarity. With the support of the MED network, it is now a cross-partisan initiative supported by of over 100 lawmakers, and counting.
- It is possible to sign the appeal online, so feel free to sign it or circulate it among your colleagues.
- The insieme website is also meant to showcase other initiatives and cross-border and cross-party cooperation, which you can find here.
- You can signal your initiatives by sending a message through the “support us” page or scroll through existing initiatives to adhere and learn more about who is collaborating on what across European Parliaments.
MED member Points of Contact: Lars Castellucci, Angela Schirò, Franziska Brantner
www.weareinthistogether.eu is a joint German-Italian appeal to the governments of all member states and EU institutions signed by 21,000 supporters, launched by 42 prominent politicians, economists and intellectuals in Germany and Italy. It calls for ambitious fiscal measures to tackle this unprecedented crisis in Europe, including a health credit line in the ESM and European Health Bonds. Some of the initiators, including MED members Franziska Brantner and Lars Castellucci, held a first joint Italo-German Press Conference with Prof. Mario Monti and Elmar Brok.
- You can still sign the appeal online.
MED members Points of Contact: Franziska Brantner, Lars Castellucci
The Mercator European Dialogue is working to continue offering these spaces for conversations through topic-specific video-calls in the upcoming weeks.