European Socialists say EU must uphold values and live up to global ambitions as we tackle pandemic

epa08347846 A pedestrian with a mask passes in front of the European Commission and Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 07 April 2020. In order to contain the spread of coronavirus, Belgium is implementing confinement guidelines for the public which is scheduled to be in place until 19 April 2020. Only supermarkets and essential trade will remain open. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

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The EU must reinforce the resilience of our democratic model and values – inside and outside Europe – and take on a global role as we overcome COVID-19. European Socialists said this in a statement at the conclusion of a Foreign Policy Network held yesterday.

Party foreign affairs spokespersons, MEPs, MPs and key representatives from the progressive political family convened via videoconference to discuss foreign policy, including EU-US-China relations as well as authoritarian attempts to undermine democracy during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chair of the network, and PvdA Member of the European Parliament, Kati Piri said:

“The world is facing an unprecedented challenge with the coronavirus. Progressives are pushing to make sure the EU lives up to the global role of champion of multilateralism it has set for itself.

“This international pandemic needs coordinated global solutions and the EU must play a central part. The ‘me first’ approach we have seen from leaders like Trump risk making the situation worse. Europe has a responsibility to find a route past US unilateralism and Chinese assertiveness, towards more global cooperation.  This is the only way we can tackle an international crisis like this.

“A big part of this global response must be upholding our values. We cannot allow any government, inside or outside Europe, to use the health emergency as a pretext to deny citizens’ rights, reduce liberties or weaken democracy. Protecting health must not become a cover for centralising power, as we can see in Hungary or in Turkey.”

The PES statement said that the Coronavirus pandemic is a multifaceted crisis with clear global implications. It is impacting the global economy, the social fabric of society, and the functioning of key state institutions. Across the world elections are being affected, parliamentary oversight is being undermined, and freedom of assembly, privacy, and movement is suspended. There has been censorship and backlashes against journalists who question how authorities have handled the crisis, and there is an increased risk of hate speech, violence against minorities, and domestic violence against women and girls. European socialists and democrats are coordinating with progressive forces across the world to stand up to these abuses wherever they take place.

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