Manon Aubry: “The Recovery Package put forward by the European Commission means Austerity.”

Manon Aubry, together with Martin Schirdewan Co-President of the GUE/NGL group, was the guest in the sixth edition of transform! europe’s webinar series Meeting the Left. She is former spokesperson for Oxfam, and since 2019 a Member of the European Parliament for France Insoumise.

Click here to watch the full interview.

On 16 July 2019, the GUE/NGL voted against the election of Ursula von der Leyen as President of the European Commission. Aubry explained that the GUE/NGL vote was motivated by issues of content. 

"We worked on ten key points and ten key expectations from the EU Commission. We are the only group that is actually writing a paper: These are the ten key expectations we have and these are the reasons why we voted against Ursula von der Leyen. We made proposals and counter-proposals, because we are not just an opposition in the European Parliament, we are a constructive opposition."

Referring to the risk of the ecological crisis being overlooked as a consequence of the pandemic, Aubry said: "The worst response to the corona crisis would be to repeat the same mistakes that have been made so far." The GUE/NGL is proposing a set of actions to be promoted in the European Parliament aimed at the ecological crisis: "It means stopping the lobbies that were trying to delay any kind of ambitious policy on the part of the Commission on ecological issues. It means that all the funds that are being injected, particularly as Recovery Fund, needs to be green."

With regards to the pandemic, Aubry said that it demonstrated not only the loss of solidarity between the European countries. In addition, it is also a loss of industrial sovereignty for the EU, as Europe, in the first stages of the crisis, was not even able to produce enough masks to protect its own citizens,  organise the production of essential goods, and help the countries that suffered the most during the crisis, all of which generated widespread Euroscepticism.  

Aubry also spoke about the recovery package labelled ‘Next Generation EU’ put forward by the European Commission. 

"It is very far from what we were asking for. We have asked for two trillion euros and, in terms of new money, we only got 750 billions. The second issue is democracy. How will this new money be distributed? Who will decide? According to what criteria? To what extend will this decision be based on democratic consensus, at least from the European Parliament? And last but not least, the Commission is giving money to regions, but states have to meet a certain number of economic conditions to get this money – in other words they have to implement austerity measures."

Finally, Aubry presented the current initiatives the GUE/NGL is promoting in the European Parliament and emphasised the role of the left in Europe: 

"Our role is central, because our responsibility is to translate hope into change. We can do it only if we are able to build a social movement. And we are the only group in the European Parliament building strong connections to social movements, meaning trade unions, NGOs, associations and activists in the very different forms they exists."