— Maria Ohisalo

We must choose to save the EU and the euro

Maria Ohisalo

This has been a spring of grief for the whole of Europe. We’ve grieved for lost lives, for the distance between family members, and for the future, which now seems uncertain and alien. These experiences are shared not only by us, the Finnish people, but the same uncertainty is found all over Europe and the world.

We will overcome this crisis. While we do, it is important to consider what kind of future we want to build for Finland and Europe. As much as the health crisis has affected all countries, the economic crisis will too, and for a long time. It would be catastrophic for Finland as a trade-dependent economy if the common internal market would collapse, and we could not export Finnish goods for sale in the EU. Therefore we must prevent the collapse of the common economic area, while at the same time seeking solutions to the global climate crisis.

It is time to stimulate the economies of Europe by looking towards the horizon. It is time to build carbon neutral European welfare states, which focus more than ever on sustainable transit, housing, food production, and the circular economy. Welfare states where digitalisation and the funding of education, research and development advance by leaps and bounds. All this needs significant common European investments. 

The European Commission has just presented its plan to revive Europe’s economy in the midst of this crisis. The commission’s level of ambition in the scale and structure of its recovery plan seems appropriate in aiding the various EU countries in recovering and renewing their economies. We Greens welcome the commission’s proposal and look forward to constructive discussions among Member States.

The Greens consider it vital that common investments are targeted to rebuilding societies to fight climate change, build circular economies, advance digitalisation, and better research and education. In our view, European funding for investments should be conditional to how well they reach these recovery goals. Funding should go to furthering the Union’s shared climate goals.

There has been talk in the last few days on how these European measures would be funded. For us Greens a part of the solution is to increase the Union’s own funding from sources other than Member State budgets. The more common investments can be funded by, for example, funding from the EU Emissions Trading System or a European plastics tax, the less we have to worry about acquiring European mutual debt. We need common European solutions to tax justice. Effective, transparent and fair taxation, where also multinational companies pay their fair share, must be a part of the overall solution.

We need bold new recovery initiatives and European solidarity to rise from this crisis. This is something the Greens in European national parliaments, governments, and the European Parliament are committed to.

Author is the chairperson of the Greens in Finland and Minister of the Interior.