Statement by João Ferreira, MP of the PCP in the European Parliament and member of the Central Committee of the PCP

Defend unwaveringly the interests of the people and the country - Reject the impositions and constraints of the European Union

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1. The needs to respond to the epidemic outbreak of COVID-19, namely with regard to the urgent strengthening of the capacity of the National Health Service and measures to defend economic activities, employment and income of workers, their labour rights, demand with more pressing urgency that the country face and resolutely reject the constraints resulting from submission to the impositions of the European Union, which are not only at the root of the problems that the people and the country face, but hinder their resolution.

The PCP denounces the fact that many of the main difficulties to face the epidemic outbreak seen in countries belonging to the European Union are the result of its policies, rules and impositions, be they of the single currency or of the budgetary instruments, which to the detriment of rights, health and people's lives, destroyed the productive capacity, degraded public services, reduced public investment and the funding of social functions.

2. The European Union's response to the immediate consequences of this outbreak demonstrates, in addition to the total absence of the so cynically proclaimed “solidarity”, that the policies of the European Union, at every moment, are determined by the interests of the main powers and the economic and financial groups.

The measures announced so far, which include easing the application of the Stability Pact and the legislation on “State aid”, are not accompanied by the mobilization of adequate financial resources, at the level of the Community budget, to deal with the epidemic outbreak and its consequences. In fact, what the European Union is saying is that it allows Portugal to use the country's money. It is absurd that this right is not always and fully exercised.

The announced funds - 37 thousand million euros for all Member States – correspond not to additional resources, as required, but to the reallocation of funds to which Member States would already be entitled, within the framework of the structural and cohesion funds, and are thus withdrawn from other projects.

The programme for the purchase of sovereign debt by the European Central Bank (ECB) continues to be based on rules that limit investment according to the share of capital of National Central Banks in the capital of the ECB, with the result that the largest beneficiaries of this programme will not be the most needy states, but those that determine and command the process of capitalist integration.

Taken as a whole, these measures, to which can be added the continuous injection of thousands of millions into banks, reproduce the essence of the policy followed when the peak of crisis erupted in 2008. Then as now, in addition to opening the purses to financial capital, the principle of “every man for himself” is valid, with the capacity of States to deal with the obviously unequal demands and consequences of the pandemic.

It is particularly significant that the recent statements by the President of the ECB have led to soaring interest rates on the sovereign debt of the countries of the so-called “periphery” of the eurozone, including Portugal, highlighting the practical results of the so-called “eurozone reform” and the persistent conditions of vulnerability of these countries in the context of the single currency.

In the current context, what was needed was a rapid and profound modification and adaptation of the Community budget, providing for its strengthening and the reallocation of existing financial means to support Member States in their efforts to protect lives, jobs, rights, wages and social aid, to boost economic activity. This strengthening could and should be ensured on the basis of contributions from the Member States, according to their capacity and relative level of wealth, and the redirection of thousands of millions of euros currently earmarked for external interventionism, propaganda actions or militarization of European Union, among other items.

The PCP alerts to the plans by some so that, similarly to what happened a decade ago, this same European Union that denies solidarity in the face of the difficulties faced by Member States will later collect even more brutally from the workers and peoples, flexibility in applying rules now temporarily suspended and huge supports for monopoly groups.

3. The PS government's option to submit the country to the dictates of the European Union and its main powers, in convergence with PSD, CDS and proxies, compromises the necessary response to structural problems of the country, which gain increased visibility in a context like the one we are currently facing. It also compromises the prompt and adequate mitigation and overcoming of the economic impacts of the outbreak of COVID-19, together with the necessary defence of the interests of the workers, the people and the country in the face of such impacts.

4. What the current situation requires with greater urgency is not the repetition of policies and options, particularly in terms of Portugal's relationship with the European Union, which have proved disastrous, but rather the urgent implementation of a set of structural options for an alternative, patriotic and left-wing policy, such as:

- The valorisation of work and workers, defending rights, wages, retirement and pensions as an essential factor to boost the internal market and national production, resolutely contradicting the ongoing surge of arbitrariness and illegalities, ensuring the prohibition of dismissals, implementing effective measures of defence of rights and rejecting the instrumentalization of the epidemic outbreak and its consequences to deepen policies to liberalise labour relations, to attack labour and trade union rights, namely those emanating from the European Union.

- The defence of the productive sectors and national production, ensuring the functioning of fundamental economic activities, the full response to the needs of goods and services of the populations, food sovereignty and security, the production of medicines, which requires the affirmation and promotion of a strong and intervening public sector, a State that assumes its role in national production at the service of the people and the country and which accommodates and stimulates the activity of micro, small and medium-sized companies and the cooperative sector.

- The recovery of public control over companies and strategic sectors, namely in banking and energy, among others, redirecting its intervention to support the promotion and economic development, in all circumstances, alongside the defence of national public companies like TAP, especially in the current context. A recovery for public control, not as a way to temporarily bear the costs of private shareholders to return them back to monopoly capital, but to integrate them entirely in the service of the country and its sovereignty. An objective that involves confronting the European Union's policies of liberalisation, privatisation and concentration of growing sectors of economic activity.

- The liberation of national resources. More than the temporary flexibilization of the Stability Pact, it demands its definitive repeal, together with the repeal of the Budgetary Treaty and the legislation on the so-called “economic governance” and the European Semester, which continue to impose the drain of resources from the country.

- The recovery of monetary sovereignty and the renegotiation of the debt – regarding its terms, interest and amounts - which, in the current context, is even more necessary, with the channelling of resources to boost public investment, the construction of infrastructure and the production of equipment that the country lacks.

- The defence and restoration of public services and the social functions of the State, countering their privatisation, with a public, general, universal, free, and quality National Health Service; a Public School, free, of quality and inclusive in all levels of education; a public, universal and solidary Social Security system, reinforced in its sources of funding; promotion of the country's scientific and technological capacity.

- The affirmation of national sovereignty and the primacy of national interests in view of the impositions of the European Union and in the framework of the negotiations that are under way. In the current situation, it is required, in particular, to release funds from the European Union budget to which the country is entitled, namely in the context of structural and cohesion funds, with substantial reduction or even suppression of the national counterpart for the receipt of these funds, together with the elimination of the so-called “thematic concentration” imposed by the European Union, adapting the use of funds to the real national needs and priorities.

5. The situation created by the epidemic outbreak of COVID-19 and its predictable impacts is an added reason for Portugal not to accept any proposal for a Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 which represents a decrease in the amounts to be received by Portugal during this period.

In view of the needs that are already clear, it is even more unacceptable that the European Union persists in a post-2020 budget proposal that, while cutting structural and cohesion funds, supporting productive sectors and social areas, channels resources for militarism, securitarianism and interventionism in the European Union.

The Portuguese government must use all the instruments at its disposal to curb this proposal and to demand a contingency budget that, especially in the current framework, ensures the continuity and reinforcement of EU funding, without the losses that resulted for the country from the delay in approval of previous financial frameworks.

6. More than at other times, there is an imperative need for the country to assert the right to sovereign development that rejects any impositions and external submission, namely from the European Union, and build a diversified external relationship policy with all countries, based on relations of cooperation among sovereign states and with equal rights.

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  • Economia e Aparelho Produtivo
  • Regime Democrático e Assuntos Constitucionais
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