CORONAVIRUS

Spanish PM calls on European Union for a Marshall Plan and ‘coronabonds’

Pedro Sánchez on Sunday requested a major public investment plan that would serve to stimulate the economy in the face of the pandemic

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez at a press conference on Sunday.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez at a press conference on Sunday.

During his fourth public address in a week, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Sunday called for coordinated action from the European Union in a bid to face the “war against the coronavirus.” The head of the government made Spain’s position clear, and called on Brussels to launch a “Marshall Plan” that would involve massive public investment in the whole of the 27-country bloc. He also defended the idea of “coronabonds,” European debt issues that would help to share out risk among all EU countries.

Until now, Spain had kept discreetly in the background during negotiations that have been going on for several weeks via video conferencing between European leaders to provide a response to the global pandemic. Italy and France lead a group of countries that are calling for more decisive action from the European institutions. And Germany and Holland, among others, represent the orthodox role of the northern EU countries, calling for the brakes to be put on and for prudence.

The prime minister called for a coordinated European response to deal with the coronavirus emergency

Sánchez made clear on Sunday which group he is in and dispelled any doubts about his position in the decisive negotiations that are coming this week. The prime minister called for a coordinated European response to deal with the coronavirus emergency. “This is a symmetrical crisis that affects the whole of the EU, and as such, cannot be solved with just a national response. We have to find and articulate a European response,” he said, after his address on Sunday and in response to a question from the Financial Times newspaper.

Spain is one of the countries that has been hardest hit by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The authorities have warned that the worst is still to come. The entire country has been on lockdown since the state of alarm was declared last weekend by the government, and the effect on the economy is likely to be tremendous. Sánchez on Sunday listed the requests he has made to the European institutions. “Things that are so logical, so rational, that it would be difficult for the EU not to take them on,” he said on Sunday.

Spain is calling for a major public investment plan that would serve to stimulate the economy. No one has any doubts that Europe will fall into a recession this year, and that the pandemic will cause the destruction of thousands of jobs. “We need to coordinate a major Marshall Plan for the whole of the EU, and to begin the process of rebuilding that we are going to need to have in the social and economic areas when this is all over,” said Sánchez.

Europe is at war against the coronavirus, and we have to respond with all of our weapons and means
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez

The Spanish prime minister also added his voice to those of countries calling for so-called “coronabonds,” European debt issues to finance investment and social spending to combat the virus. “We have championed that the European Stability Mechanism that the EU introduced after the 2008 crisis is used to issue bonds that spread the debt on a European level, by, for example, issuing coronavirus bonds,” he said. “This is what, for example, the governor of the ECB [European Central Bank], [Christine] Lagarde has called for, as well as the president of the [European] Commission, [Ursula] Von der Leyen, and which of course the Spanish government, as well as other countries, is calling for and demands.”

Sánchez concluded on Sunday with a warning of the danger of the enemy currently being fought. “Europe is at war against the coronavirus, and we have to respond with all of our weapons and means. There is no excuse for not mobilizing all of those resources,” he said.

English version by Simon Hunter.

More information