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€750 billion Recovery Plan Could Help to Avoid Austerity in Post-COVID-19 Ireland

Responding to today’s launch of the European Commission’s €750 billion COVID-19 Recovery Plan, Green Party MEPs Grace O’Sullivan and Ciarán Cuffe say they are broadly welcoming of the plan, which they describe as having the potential to play a part in creating a socially, economically and environmentally resilient Europe, and avoiding a descent into austerity at home.

The Dublin and Ireland South MEPs agree that a post COVID-19 pandemic recovery cannot see a return to business as usual. They are heartened at key aspects of the European Green Deal being central to the Commission’s Recovery Plan, particularly in the areas of investment in renovation, in public and active transport, renewable energy and sustainable jobs.

Green Party MEP for Ireland South, Grace O’Sullivan said: “I welcome today’s plan. European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen spoke of economic recovery recently, and described a Europe that would ‘bounce back better’ from the pandemic. The Green Deal, she said, would be a motor for the recovery. I’m heartened to see the Green Deal front and centre in the Commission’s Recovery Plan.

“On the face of it, the Commission is backing that commitment with funding to the tune of €750 billion, which can help to adequately resource a Green recovery from the current crisis. For people in Ireland this means we have support now, that should help to avoid a return to the austerity measures introduced in the wake of the 2008 financial crash. It gives us the chance to move forward with our energy focussed on sustainable jobs, resilience and re-building a modern, socially just economy, whilst referencing all EU decision-making against the ongoing climate and ecological crisis. 

Green Party MEP for Dublin, Ciarán Cuffe said: “The renovation wave, to be introduced by the Commission later in the year, will now be realised through a doubly increased renovation rate of the building stock across Europe. This will be of huge benefit to Ireland, where we urgently need to implement a large scale retrofitting programme to lift households out of fuel poverty, and create warm, cost efficient homes for everyone.

“Unfortunately on transport, I do not see the ambition that is required. There is a focus on sustainable vehicles, which is positive, but we cannot rebuild transport by simply replacing combustion engines with electric ones. The European Commission should have come forward with more on how we truly transform transport – a commitment to investment in sustainable transport infrastructure is too vague. When you consider the billions of euro being poured into polluting industries, we have to focus on public transport, on active mobility and not only electric vehicles.

“All things considered however, while by no means perfect, the direction the Commission is taken is clear: this is a stimulus package with the European Green Deal at its heart and we will work to ensure that social and environmental justice are prioritised.”

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