The European Commission on Wednesday told governments to focus on safeguarding the health of people and the planet after abandoning its fiscal rulebook so states can combat COVID-19’s economic fallout.
“The Coronavirus has hit us like an asteroid and left a crater-shaped hole in the European economy,” Executive Vice President ValdisDombrovskis said in a statement. “For this immediate phase, our focus is on investing in public health and protecting jobs and companies.”
Dombrovskis’ calls come as part of the Commission’s European Semester, which is designed to enforce the bloc’s budget rules and coordinate economic policies in the EU.
But this year’s different due to the pandemic, which has forced governments to lock down their economies to stop the virus from spreading.
Brussels already waived its deficit rules and released constraints on state aid, giving states free rein to borrow and pump potentially trillions of euros into their economies to prevent mass unemployment and bankruptcy.
EU governments will need to focus on developing green and digital economies once the pandemic subsides, ensuring the bloc stays true to its climate commitments and becomes carbon neutral by 2050.
“The challenges we faced before this crisis have not gone away,” said Paolo Gentiloni, economy commissioner. “As we look to the future, our investment and reform objectives must remain focused on making a success of the green and digital transitions and ensuring social fairness.”