European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said EU countries should invest billions in the EU’s next long-term budget to mitigate the economic hit caused by the coronavirus crisis.
“We need a Marshall Plan for Europe,” she wrote in an op-ed for German newspaper Die Welt Am Sonntag, referring to the U.S. recovery plan that helped to rebuild Europe after the Second World War.
Von der Leyen wrote that the EU’s next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), due to run from 2021 to 2027, should be tailored to respond to the pandemic, which is expected to trigger a global recession.
The Commission chief also suggested that the EU budget was a means of forging solidarity between EU countries.
“The many billions that have to be invested today to avert a greater catastrophe will bind the generations together,” she wrote.
The EU’s budget is still being negotiated by European leaders, who failed to reach an agreement at a summit in Brussels in February.
The Commission president said the next EU budget must now look very different to the proposal on the table at that summit. “It must be there for the time when economies weakened by the current crisis will need to spark their engines and get our unique internal market going again.”
In the same article, later republished in English by the European Commission, Von der Leyen wrote that “Europe is now standing tall together” and that pan-European solidarity was being “driven by a surge of compassion across our Union.”
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez made a similar call for coordinated economic action among European countries. “Europe has to establish a wartime economy and put in place measures for the defense, the reconstruction and the economic recovery of Europe,” Sánchez wrote in an op-ed for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
“If the virus knows no borders, the financing mechanisms mustn’t either,” he added.