Reform MP: EU 'Marshall Plan' needed to solve coronavirus economic crisis ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Marko Mihkelson.
Marko Mihkelson. Source: ERR

"We are dealing with a completely unique global hybrid crisis;" Mihkelson said, appearing on ETV political discussion show "Esimene stuudio" on Tuesday evening.

"At the same time, we are talking about a humanitarian catastrophe in the form of a very dangerous virus. Europe is at the center of this right now. I do not remember a situation where more than two billion people are sitting at home at any one time globally. This, of course, has had an impact on the international economy and is also felt by our entrepreneurs, so it's perfectly appropriate to ask what measures to control the virus are being taken to save the economy," he went on.

Mihkelson said the European Commission and its president, Ursula von der Leyen, needs to put together measures for the whole union, in respect of the economic aftershocks of the crisis.

"I think the EU must take very drastic measures to emerge from the crisis. We might call it the new Marshall Plan (referring to the U.S. aid program for the reconstruction of western Europe after World War Two), or the "Von der Leyen Plan".

"Alongside the current humanitarian crisis, we need to put together a package of measures that will not only alleviate the current situation, but will also help to overcome the crisis."

"The steps the government has taken now are, in my opinion, very reasonable," Mihkelson added.

Mihkelson noted the state does not need to use coercive methods given its sparse population and quite different customs than those found in southern European countries where the coronavirus spread has been much more pronounced, though the public should adhere to the principle of maintaining social distance, he said.

The first priority was to save lives, he said. 

"I think there is no politician in Estonia who does not see this as the most important consideration. We are now approaching the peak of the crisis,; we can see what is happening around us," said Mihkelson.

Mihkelson noted that while the government provides information on emergency action via the Riigikogu Council of Elders, more information, both for the opposition and the public at large, could be forthcoming. 

"One of the bottlenecks over the last couple of weeks has been that the information has been coming in at a very hectic pace, there have been contradictions, and this has definitely increased the level of stress in society," said Mihkelson.

The European Commission has so far failed to fulfill its tasks when Italy asked for aid in the crisis. Even providing personal protective equipment would have been something, he said, even though this provision does not fall directly within the competence of the European Commission.

When asked whether the EU's single market was still functioning, Mr Mihkelson replied that freight transport was still intact

"We have seen in past crises how slowly the EU gets going. But when it does start to work, I think it proves its need with regard to a small country like us, and which is also in a geographically interesting position to see what Poland is doing."

Poland, an EU member, imposed border restrictions at midnight on March 15, 48 hours ahead of Estonia. While an escorted convoy of Estonia citizens returning home by car had been promised across Poland's territory the following day, that did not materialize, and those affected had to make their way to north German ports to await specially laid-on vessels to take them home.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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