We have never experienced the trouble ahead
On September 16, the European Parliament will hold a major debate on the corona epidemic and the deep economic crisis that ensues. We invite you to participate. After all, these are historical times. We are facing the worst economic blow in 90 years, in Europe and worldwide. This year, we, as Belgians, as Europeans, are losing about ten percent of our prosperity. And we have not yet overcome the corona virus. What are the challenges? The corona epidemic itself, of course The virus that paralyzes our society is still among us. We hope for a vaccine in the first half of next year. Until then, the uncertainty gnaws, we cannot return to our normal existence, formidable challenges remain: - How do we get that vaccine as soon as possible? - How will we deliver it to 8 billion people as soon as possible? - Until then, how do we keep a balance between preventing infections and the risk of total disruption of the economy? - How do we avoid the chaos at the European internal borders of recent months? The economic challenge is even greater Ten percent loss of prosperity means that all of us, companies, banks, individuals, are going to be very careful with our money, and will save. To such an extent that the crisis is getting worse: because everyone is saving, everyone has to save even more. That is precisely why all governments have entered into new debt to inject money into the economy. To mitigate the loss of income, and later also to get the economy going again with new investments. Europe is doing that too, in a way never seen before. It borrows at least 400 billion euros in new debts for this. That is little in relation to the whole European economy, but two and a half times the European annual budget. How is this money going to be used optimally, who is going to pay it off later, that is what the intense political debate is all about. Because the operation is both an inevitable necessity and a gigantic gamble. Is this the time for a greening of Europe? Even before the crisis, Europe wanted to take the lead in reducing climate change. Because you create new technology, improve the health of people and nature, become less dependent on oil and, in the long run, make substantial savings on your energy bill. Because you have to invest anyway, and because the survival of the planet is at stake, you should invest the money you are now pumping up massively into the Green Deal, say its promotors. Others also want to invest, but do not want to put all the eggs in one basket. The digital revolution, the artificial intelligence, the aging infrastructure of Europe, also require money, they say. Who will be right there? Finally, there is a deeper question: do we still trust the rest of the world? Until the beginning of this year the world was open: to trade, to travel, via the internet. Corona taught us that viruses also travel, that we are dependent on China for mouth masks, that in times of crisis each country in the world reacts with a ‘me first’.
What do we do with that? Should we build strategic stocks of medical equipment within Europe? There are voices to impose more restrictions on trade from other continents: on climate and environmental standards, on tax rules, on the effect on each region in the European Union? Is intercontinental free trade doomed? Will we ever be able to travel carefree to the other side of the world again? So those are the major challenges for Europe in the coming months. - should we tackle corona together, as Europe, or does that not work? - are we mitigating the crisis with debt for the next generations, or not? - is investing in the fight against climate more important than the rest? - should we become more cautious with world trade or expand it further? That is what it will be about on 16 September, when Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will present her State of the European Union, her plans for next year, to Parliament. We want you to join the debate. Let us know your opinion, via twitter or facebook or mail, in text, video or audio. We will make a summary of all these opinions on 15 September and send it to the Belgian parliamentarians before the debate. We all have an appointment with history this autumn. Do not miss it