Happy 25th of April, belatedly
Dear European friends,
We write to you the day after Italy’s Festa della Liberazione and Portugal’s Dia da Liberdade to give you one last update on our open letter to Angela Merkel.
Last Thursday, European leaders held the European Council via conference call. They formally approved the € 540 billion proposed by the eurogroup. Such measures will become operative from the 1st of June.
The question of a larger recovery fund was not yet resolved. EU leaders “agreed to work towards establishing a recovery fund, which is needed and urgent” and that it should be “of a sufficient magnitude, targeted towards the sectors and geographical parts of Europe most affected”. Details, however, are left to be worked out by the EU commission, which is tasked to “urgently come up with a proposal”.
We are glad that a significant amount of resources will start to become available in a month’s time. It will be a larger sum than anticipated, available sooner than expected and with fewer conditions attached than were on the cards when the debate started.Commitment towards European solidarity was expressed. Was meaningful reform also embraced?
European recovery bonds were part of the proposal drafted by the EU Commission for the European Council, a proposal reportedly approved by Chancellor Merkel. Yet they are not mentioned in the conclusions of the meeting by President Michel.
Experts interpret this in different ways.
Euroskeptic commentators like Brexiteer Ambrose Evans Pritchard feel unsurprisingly smug about such “vague agreement” and claim that “European leaders have dodged their moment of truth”.
However Alberto Alemanno, EU Law Professor in Paris and one of the signatories to our letter, sees reasons for cautious optimism. He believes that “delegating to the EU Commission the choice on EU Recovery Bonds” entails three major implications: communitarization (the shift in initiative from governments to the EU Commission), europeanization (a plan for all EU member states, not just those in the eurozone) and politicization (the EU Parliament regains a role).
We think that what was set in motion on Thursday could prove to be a cautious step towards a more integrated Europe. At the same time we feel hesitant to make a final assessment at this stage and want to wait how things play out.
More efforts might be needed to ensure a strong European response to the pandemic. We should all await the proposal of the European Commission and not rule out reiterating some of the arguments of our open letter ahead of the European Council in June, once we will have a clearer picture of the situation.Until then we would like to hear your feedback, to share ideas, to stay in touch. If you would like to hear from us again, please click here.
A few things remain to be said.
First, we want to express our gratitude to all of you. Your commitment to European solidarity reached people in countries across Europe, where our letter was published in several news outlets.We do not know if our letter was appreciated by its addressee, Chancellor Merkel, who received it again on Thursday morning with more than 2500 signatures. But we do know that it was a source of comfort to many citizens across Europe to see Europeans from many different countries united behind the ideal of European solidarity in the name of our shared history.
Such shared history is the fabric of our European identity and we would love to continue to offer people reasons to embrace more aspects of our European heritage and feel hopeful for our shared future.
Yesterday was an important day in two European countries. In Italy la Festa della Liberazione marks the end of a two decades long fascist dictatorship and of WWII, 75 years ago. In Portugal el Dia da Liberdade celebrates the Carnation Revolution, which in 1974 peacefully ended almost 50 years of dictatorship. Both were key events in the historical processes that brought about the democratic republics of Italy and Portugal, which later became members of the EU. And both events are remembered with passion by the Italian and Portoguese people. We think it is important that the history of these days is talked about across Europe, and that their legacy is celebrated as part of our shared European heritage.
We leave you with two famous songs, the first, aired during the Portoguese Revolution, the second universally associated with the Italian resistance. They are called “Grândola Vila Morena” and “Bella Ciao”.