Dear European friends,
We want to update you on the open letter to Angela Merkel in this crucial week for the EU.
This coming Thursday the European Council discusses the economic response to the pandemic. The meeting builds on that of the eurogroup, in which measures for up to € 500 billion were agreed. On Thursday, the main point on the agenda will be the establishment of an even larger recovery fund, and crucially, its financing.
The creation of European bonds will be the central question and we have reasons to be carefully optimistic that European solidarity will be demonstrated in a meaningful way.
Last week the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for “recovery bonds” and the president of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen stressed the urgency of “innovative solutions to unlock massive public and private investment” in response to the crisis.
Many European leaders, too, are pushing for reform. On March 25th, President of the EU Council Charles Michel received a letter signed by the political leaders of France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Ireland, Greece, Slovenia and Luxembourg demanding the creation of a “common debt instrument”, a plea they have repeated many times since.
In their reluctance to embrace eurobonds the governments of Germany, Austria and the Netherlands look increasingly isolated, also because intellectuals and citizens like you are swaying the public opinion.
In the Netherlands opposition to the government’s hard-line stance is voiced by many, including historian Hans Van Hoorst, one of the signatories to our letter, who mocked his country’s controversial finance minister Hoekstra as “the Ebenezer Scrooge of the EU”.
In Germany there is a positive queue of open letters calling for European bonds. Leading journals have given a platform to their proponents (as in a recent interview in the SZ with Italian prime minister Conte) or endorsed them directly in editorials–most bitingly last week in Der Spiegel, where the government’s rejection of eurobonds was called “selfish, small-minded and cowardly”.
German president Steinmeier appealed to the citizens to remember that a pandemic is not a war, but a time for solidarity. And the German public shares this view. A recent ZDF poll showed that two thirds of the population, including voters of all parties (except for the AfD), are in favour of European solidarity. And Angela Merkel herself signalled yesterday, for the very first time, that she might be willing to go some steps further…
Crises always bring change. The direction of this change depends on all of us.
Now is the time to unite as European citizens and build the EU of tomorrow, stronger, more integrated and more resilient, capable of protecting all its citizens from Rome to Amsterdam, from Madrid to Helsinki, from Paris to Berlin.
This is why we are calling for your help.
Since our last update the number of signatories to our letter has more than doubled and is on course to reach 2000 today. Friends and kind volunteers have translated the letter into 7 languages: we speak different languages but we share the same ideals.
From now until Thursday we would like to increase both the support and the awareness of our open letter even further.
It would also be of great help if you could offer assistance or advice for publishing the letter in your country.
On Wednesday, the day before the European Council meeting, the letter will be sent again to Angela Merkel’s office as well as to all main European newspapers.
We will send a further update later this week. Your suggestions, questions, and feedback are always welcome so feel free to respond to this email.
Thank you again for being part of our pan-European call for solidarity.
Please stay safe and we talk again soon.
With our warmest regards
Andrea & Nina on behalf of the team (Gian Giacomo, Dominik, Felix, Jack)