Volt Statement on EU action against the spread of COVID-19

Volt believes in a European Union without borders. Only solidarity and Europe-wide coordinated solutions will enable us to effectively manage this public health emergency. This is Europe’s chance to show strength in unity.

According to experts, closing borders within the EU will not help to mitigate the spread of the virus. That moment has passed, and the disease has taken hold all over the Union. To solve that, we need coordinated action, as haphazardly closing our borders will jeopardize the long term cohesion of Europe. Member states must act together as taking unilateral action with regards to their borders, without coordinating, hurts the very foundations of the EU. At times of crisis it is essential to safeguard our institutions and values.

We need a coordinated response to tackle this crisis effectively. Coordinated measures will help to tackle the spread of the virus more effectively. Governments should immediately:

  • Launch large scale EU-wide testing as recommended by the WHO and using the best practices from other countries including South Korea and Taiwan
  • Make vital medical supplies available at the right time and moment for the regions of Europe most in need
  • Provide accurate and timely information to civil society and the public about public health issues
  • Raise awareness on the most effective measure of social distancing and everyone’s individual responsibility in this regard
  • Scrupulously follow the guidelines of the WHO on the treatment of people who came in contact with COVID-19
  • Ensure full transparency in case decisions are made that temporarily limit civil liberties.

In order to safeguard the rule of law and human rights, all measures should be of limited duration (e.g., 30 or 60 days), with a requirement of review and be subject to legislative and judicial oversight. Governments need to work with civil society to undertake a rapid human rights impact assessment to ensure that measures and actions do not inappropriately infringe human rights and fundamental freedoms. 

At the same time, we need to take serious financial action to tackle this crisis. Volt welcomes the EU Corona investment initiative, allocating €37bn to mitigate the crisis, and the willingness to do more to safeguard European businesses if needed. 

Beyond this, governments need to adopt the measures as proposed by CesUE, a centre for Research, education and civil activism, to the European Council, supported by relevant figures from academia, civil society and politics. Volt, like CesUE, urges national governments to immediately approve the next Multiannual Financial Framework, increasing the budget to at least 1.3% of the EU GDP, as requested by the European Parliament, to ensure the provision of crucial EU-wide public goods. 

Further steps need to be taken by governments, including:

  1. Enlarging the scope of the European Stability Mechanism to finance the immediate strengthening of the European and national health systems for the economic and financial stability of the EU.
  2. Abolishing the compulsory balanced budget provision for the EU and creating an EU Safe Asset to be issued to finance an EU-wide plan to promote EU economic recovery and social cohesion during and after the emergency.
  3. Moving fiscal issues to the ordinary legislative procedure and providing the EU with fiscal powers to adopt new own resources – such as the carbon tax (and carbon tariffs), the digital tax, the financial transaction tax – to finance the EU budget.

Volt believes that EU national governments should make public health and the fight against epidemics a shared competence. Not only to enable us to act effectively against epidemics but also to ensure the health and prosperity of Europe outside of times of crises.

The board of Volt Europa