COVID 19

Call for a European Solidarity Stimulus Plan: European solidarity must continue during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the aftermath

[Brussels, 15 April 2020] Welcoming the EU’s finance ministers’ decision to finally come together to provide a short-term ‘COVID recovery plan’ for Europe, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL), stresses that solidarity must be the new norm now and especially in the long-term.

“We are all in this together, now and will continue to be in the future.” Cautioned EWL President Gwendoline Lefebvre. “While we are reassured by this modest show of solidarity that the European project is still alive, a greater show of unity is needed at this time. We call for a long term European Solidarity Stimulus Plan, which places equality between women and men at the core”, she stressed.
“Women are already paying the greatest price for all that is broken in our system.”, stated Joanna Maycock, EWL Secretary General. “This current crisis is amplifying that pre-existing reality, and has the potential to make things even worse if we don’t seize the opportunity to learn from past mistakes and make sure that the response is an opportunity to rethink, redesign and renew our societies in Europe to value the essential contribution that women make.”

The EWL’s publication,Purple Pact, proposes a feminist economic model. “Women are already the ones who are holding up our system that wasn’t designed by them or for them: women are doing the bulk of work in homes, hospitals, schools, and supermarkets that enable everyone in society to function: but this is simply not recognised or rewarded. Our Purple Pact calls for massive investments in the care economy and a Care Deal for Europe.” She added while also announcing the launch of a policy brief, which includes examples from the EWL 2000 member organisations in the EU and accession countries, of how women are doing the bulk of essential work in homes, hospitals and the retail sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The response of the EU finance ministers finally reached after weeks of discussions, is a first step in the right direction. We call for a clear framework for the ‘conditionality’ clause of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which must be based on the EU’s own mission and values: equality between women and men, equality for all, social cohesion, solidarity, democracy and the rule of law. Lessons of the past must prevent EU leaders from choosing to pursue disastrous austerity measures for which women and especially minority women have paid the price.

Further measures adopted by finance ministers, to support unemployment are welcome and provide a solid basis to make the European Pillar of Social Rights a reality. Measures to support Small and Medium Sized Entreprises (SMEs) are also welcome particularly as women have been neglected in this sector.

In a letter addressing governments and heads of state, EWL members call to seize the opportunity now and to plan for the long term. Among the recommendations, the letter calls for the urgent adoption of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 and a European Solidarity Stimulus Plan, applying the gender budgeting principle throughout to recognise the different contributions and reality of all women and girls in Europe.

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