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Response to COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, over the last two weeks we are experiencing the world like never before. On the one hand, we are being challenged every day as we face tremendous loss and sacrifice. On the other, we also witness how being united behind science, solidarity, and common sense can help to beat a crisis.

Like many other crises, this pandemic disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in society. For COVID-19 this particularly includes the elderly and those with chronic illnesses, but an imbalance in access to medical care and social welfare also harms refugees, migrants and undocumented people, homeless people, people in prisons, lower income groups and unemployed people, women* and LGBTQI+ people, people with disabilities, people of color, and racialised communities.

As we watch history unfold in front of our eyes, we catch an unexpected glimpse of what our future might hold if we don’t stop the climate crisis as individuals and if communities are left struggling to access basic resources. We also see the extraordinary resilience, care and kindness of human beings. Initiatives, like #FlattenTheCurve, of voluntary quarantines and self-isolation, communities working together to take care of the elderly and vulnerable, performing songs, duets and concerts across balconies, rooftops and streets across Europe to keep our spirits high show this collective solidarity. It is clear that people united will never be divided!

Together, without leaving anyone behind, we must fight this pandemic. This is not and was never a Chinese, Italian, Iranian or French problem, but a global problem that can be overcome when we act together. This is why we make the following demands, for the duration of the pandemic, in order to support the current global and European efforts against COVID-19.

10 immediate actions:

  1. A quick and widespread introduction of a universal basic income, which should be directly distributed to every European citizen and resident.
  2. Housing is a right. Freeze all evictions, all residential rents and all commercial rents of small and medium size enterprises. Provide a safe home for the homeless, through requisition of empty hotels, offices or houses when needed.
  3. Freeze all mortgage payments, interest payments on credit cards and other loan and debt payments including education debt.
  4. Ban the firing of people, while making states pay for those that can’t work during the crisis; acknowledge that supermarket employees and delivery workers are providing vital services, and ensure that they receive necessary protection equipment for their safety at work.
  5. While temporary limitations of basic freedoms of individuals could be justified provided they are proportionate and limited in time as part of the urgency measures, we denounce the war-like rhetoric used by Heads of State, unilateral introduction of internal borders, and Schengen borders.
  6. Border measures should not affect the right to asylum, right to family reunification or family life. The non-EU citizens currently in the EU on short-term visas should automatically be granted Force Majeure Schengen visa extension while the border measures are in place, the retention centers should be emptied and migrants should be immediately relocated to safe environments within the EU.
  7. The EU and its Member States should start a formal cooperation for use of national and EU funds, medical supplies and equipment, and treatment of patients. This solidarity should be extended to all the accession and neighbouring countries of the EU.
  8. This pandemic is a global crisis. Denounce all forms of xenophobia and racism immediately. The EU must be ready to provide international support by means of aids, funds and medical supplies if and when the COVID-19 crisis reaches poorer countries (especially conflict zones). Moreover, the ongoing humanitarian aid should not be reduced or stopped due to this crisis.
  9. Address the intersectionality of the crisis: women*, people with disabilities, undocumented, migrants, poor, LGBTQI+, people of color, and racialised communities are always left behind in times of crisis and governments must ensure measures that vulnerable communities are the first with access to resources. Reports of increased gender-based violence should be taken seriously, services providing support and emergency shelters should remain open and should be given enough resources to protect vulnerable communities.
  10. The efforts of combatting the COVID-19 crisis should not interfere with the efforts to combat the climate crisis. We should ensure that the investments during and after the crisis do not contribute to environmental destruction and we should stick to the plan of demanding a real climate law.

As we have seen in the 2008 global financial crisis, we are worried that the economic crisis, which is likely to follow the COVID-19 pandemic, will be used as an excuse to implement austerity measures that will deepen the inequality within our society. The 2008 austerity measures that Europe and its member states have implemented contributed to deteriorating public health services that we need so desperately right now. This health crisis shows us the value of a social Europe, and we will continue fighting for it during and after this pandemic.