Covid-19 and the Mickey Mouse Parliament

This is an opinion article by an external contributor. The views belong to the writer.
Covid-19 and the Mickey Mouse Parliament
© European Parliament

The corona crisis is serious. This crisis is literally evolving by the hour and what becomes imminent, is that our open, secure and free societies in Europe are changing.

There is a state of emergency, but there is also vigilance. The crisis has surprised most people. The European Parliament is no exception.

Most of our parliamentary agenda was suspended last week and this week the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, also confirmed this. He even had to quarantine himself because the likelihood of Covid-19 infection in his case was high.

This means that all elements of the parliamentary work now are on hold. Among other things, this resulted in that the majority of MEPs travelled back to their home countries for a while.

I believe that the entire suspension of the European Parliament is a major democratic problem. Of course, we should protect our citizens in times of a crisis. However, in spite of everything, we must strive (and with the necessary distance) to take responsibility and represent millions of Europeans during times of crises.

Covid-19 has shown that the European population is in a need of strong nation states and effective cooperation on cross-border problems!

During this corona crisis, we are all fighting against a ticking clock if we want to save lives. It is therefore of no use to take away peoples’ work spaces.

The Covid-19 virus has primarily attacked European security in terms of health and the effective treatment of diseases. Health policies are the responsibility of the member states, which is why many initiatives to combat the Corona virus have been launched from Berlin,Paris Copenhagen and other EU capitals. Their primary focus is on the disease and how to deal with it.

However, since crisis management has a direct impact on the free movement of goods, people and the functioning of society as a whole, EU member states must also deal with the upcoming economic crisis.

Last Friday, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen held a press conference to present several initiatives.

Among other things, a large-scale investment initiative (the “Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative”), which should, for example, enable European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to have access to a total investment pool of 37 billion euros.

Thus, the investment initiative will allows European SMEs temporary access to an extensive European Regional Development Fund. This, along with the promise of extensive state aid measures, is an excellent idea that will help thousands of people and businesses in need. This initiative also shows that the EU is able to react in times of crisis.

Despite its limitations, the European Parliament needs to show the Commission that it is ready to act as well.

The investment initiative is in fact a legislative proposal. This means that – as the ordinary legislative procedure prescribes – it needs to be approved by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.

In other words, Danish and European SMEs will not get access to these structural funds unless the European Parliament fulfil its obligations as co-legislators!

Let me therefore ask: what is the European Parliament planning to do? Well, I am unsatisfied with the current situation.. In addition, rumours say that the parliamentary work might not be resumed in the upcoming week.

Therefore, allow me to point out that nothing prevents the members of the European Parliament to continue our work.

So, let us prove that the European Parliament is not a “Mickey Mouse Parliament”, as Ms Thatcher once called it. It is precisely in times such as these that we need to show Europeans their value and impact. NOW!

Pernille Weiss is a Danish politician, and businesswoman who was elected as a Conservative People's Party Member of the European Parliament

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