#EuCanDoIt: first success after the public hearing on the petition to the European Parliament on COVID19

Today, it is a great day to celebrate how citizens can impact the European Union politics. 

On April 30th 2020, after efforts to have an urgency procedure activated, Virginia Fiume (Eumans coordinator) presented in front of the PETI Committee of the European Parliament the petition to the EP calling for a European response to the COVID19 social, economic and health crisis - #EuCanDoIt.

The petition urges the European Union to strengthen its role at international level in managing the pandemic and other emergencies, such as the climate emergency, and to convocate and strengthen the mandate of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The PETI Committee proposed to follow-up to the petition with a short Motion for Resolution, on which the Coordinators of the political groups will be called to vote again. It is up to them to decide on the parliamentary iter of the petition. And we will do our best together to make sure this historical opportunity doesn't get wasted. 

On the 14th of May we received an official letter from the PETI Committee informing us that the Petition will be discussed within the AFCO Committee (Constitutional Affairs) and the Working Group on the Conference on the Future of Europe, as a preparatory work for the evaluation of a short motion resolution. 

This is a first important result: thanks to the support of common European citizens and several mayors, the European Parliament has now the concrete possibility to start a process which could bring the European Union to take a leadership role in dealing with global and strategic issues to recover from the crisis.

We will keep working on this - and we need you!


You might want to have a look at: 

- The presentation of the Petition and the reactions of the Members of the European Parliament
- The transcript of the reply of the European Commission DG Health
- #EuCanDoIt: the petition to the European Parliament;
- FacePetition: the visual initiative to bring citizens to the EP;
- Mayors of Europe: the declaration of European mayors for a joint answer to the Coronavirus crisis. 
- The official letter by the PETI Committee which informs the Petition will be discussed by AFCO And the working group on the Conference on the Future of Europe

The Speech to the PETI Committee of the European Parliament to present #Eucandoit

Presentation of Petition 329/2020 by Virginia Fiume on behalf of Eumans and others, on empowering the EU to address global challenges, from Covid-a9 to social, economic and climate crisis in front of the PETI Committee.

Thank you Madam chair for the opportunity to present Petition n 329 also known as EU CAN DO IT.

The Petition was officially submitted on the 24th of March 2020. 7,500 people from all EU countries signed it. Mayors of cities from the Mediterranean to Transilvania signed it (Palermo, Porto, Krakow, Cluj, Cieszyn, Ixelles, Bitonto, Sant'Agata sul Santerno) together with several civil society organizations. I also speak on their behalf.  You can see some of these European citizens’ faces in the link to the FacePetition that we sent you yesterday. These are citizens who put their trust in the institution you represent in one of the darkest moments of recent European history. A moment that can become a leap forward for the future of Europe.

I am here - or I’d rather say “we are here”  - with trust and respect to reinforce your role as the most open and transparent Parliament in Europe. So open and transparent that a citizen can sit here, at the heart of the European democracy, to ask you to accelerate the potential of the role of initiative that Parliament can play. For this crisis. And for future crises. 

Over these last very difficult months different countries have responded in different ways to the sanitary emergency, with different outcomes. We believe that the EU should work for a future in which she - as a whole - has a leading role in multilateral decision-making.  

I will present the content of the petition, but I will also ask for your active role in promoting a follow up through a Parliamentary initiative. Our objective is that the competent committees, notably AFCO, ENVI, ECON and in due course the plenary of the European Parliament discuss and take a position on the issues that we propose to your attention that have to do with the democratic reform of the EU and its ability to answer to challenges such as COVID19, climate change, and democracy. We believe that the EP needs to take a much more visible and leadership role in this discussion that is directly affecting all of us. The Commission should also be involved in this discussion.

We are very keen that the European Parliament opens a public and participatory discussion on the consequences of COVID19 on the composition and agenda of the Conference on the Future of Europe, in order to include issues concerning the reform of the Treaties and to allow a large participation of citizens, also by using new methods and technologies.

When we launched the petition we focused on five essential pillars that we thought are essential for a reform of the European Union.

If Covid19 taught us something it is that “collaboration” and “cooperation” are the key words for a management of fragilities and emergencies that doesn’t leave anyone behind. Not a Hungarian or Polish citizen losing her democratic rights, nor a person from any other country losing her health, her job, her safety. 

Cooperation. Collaboration.

The proposals put forward in our petition are ALSO intended to urge the EU to come to the rescue of those international organizations and treaty-bodies that are under attack, starting from the World Health Organisation, which needs resources and structural reforms, and not to be dismantled. 

The Petition asks you to go ahead with the organisation of the Conference on the Future of Europe. It might seem counter-intuitive, but if we don’t use this opportunity to build upon the relationship of trust between citizens and institutions we might not have another chance to be Europeans. 

Today it is the coronavirus, tomorrow, or rather yesterday, it will be ice-caps shrinking, deserts expanding, ocean levels rising and species disappearing. Each of these realities has a structural impact on the ecosystem in which we live. 

Today global institutions are more necessary than ever to pursue the welfare and wellbeing of billions of people, they are the custodians of the international Rule of Law and the full protection and promotion of universal human rights. 

Incidentally, these are the founding principles of the European Union. In a moment in which some Member States are reneging them, it is crucial for the EU to play a leading role in protecting them and making them work for international peace and security. 

We hope that the Parliament, thanks to this fruitful cooperation between citizens and institutions, will take a leading role to put a reformed, stronger and more democratic EU at the center of the global system of governance for future pandemics and current global challenges.

A parliamentary resolution in that direction would be of utmost importance. And a Parliamentary resolution that blossoms from the dialogue between Parliament and its citizens can be historical

EU CAN DO IT - EU should do it! 

Thank you for your attention.

Notes after the result of the 30th of April hearing and next steps

For the European Parliament this is an opportunity not to be missed. Today, during the meeting of the Petition Committee of the European Parliament, we presented the EU CAN DO IT petition, which calls for the strengthening of the role of the European Union in managing the pandemic and other emergencies, such as the climate emergency. Starting with investments and the strengthening of the WHO. As well as a call for the strengthening of the mandate of the Conference on the Future of Europe, involving European citizens in an institutional manner.


The PETI Committee proposed to follow-up the petition with a short Motion for Resolution, on which the Coordinators of the political groups will be called to vote again. It is up to them to decide on the parliamentary iter of the petition.

For the promoters of the petition, this is an excellent decision, which could allow a further discussion on the proposal supported by 7.500 citizens, launched by Eumans and a network of organizations, movements and European citizens (full list here).

After the vote on the short Motion resolution, there could also be the possibility to get the petition to the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO), and even to have it discussed at the Conference on the Future of Europe, the large European citizens’ consultation which will be held in the coming months, aiming at reforming the European Union.

This is a first important result: thanks to the support of common European citizens and several mayors, the European Parliament has now the concrete possibility to start a process which could bring the European Union to take a leadership role in dealing with global and strategic issues to recover from the crisis.

 Europe has, in fact, the possibility to represent an example for the world: at a time when Trump announces the suspension of US funds to the WHO, our proposal calls for an opposite action. We need to increase aid to international cooperation for vaccine research and access to essential drugs indicated by the WHO; to strengthen databases allowing updates on the most recent medical discoveries to start clinical trials in several countries; to strengthen health structures in low-income countries. With the endorsement of EU CAN DO IT, the EU would commit to this direction, thus becoming an example of democratic leadership in international institutions, as opposed to the nationalist retreat of the United States and the authoritarian models of China and Russia.

A representative of the European Commission was also present at the public hearing, providing information on the Commission’s ongoing initiatives, and on a May 4th appointment, a summit on the global response to the coronavirus, in collaboration with the World Health Organization. On this occasion, they will launch an “online pledging”, a big online fundraiser. Some Member States already announced new funds to the WHO.

We hope that every mayor, Member of the European Parliament and organization in Europe will make themselves heard by their national government by sending them our petition calling on the executive to play a more active role.

Other essential pillars of the petition concern the acceleration of the Green New Deal and the ecological transition of taxation. It would be a fundamental step forward to provide European guarantees for an economic recovery which takes into account environmental sustainability, in order to avoid facing the consequences of climate change after surviving those of the pandemic.


Response by SEYCHELL Martin - European Commission - DG HEALTH:

“Honorable Members, I’d like to thank the petitioner for providing me with an opportunity to briefly explain what the Commission is doing to help address this unprecedented crisis that links with many of the aspects the petitioner mentioned.

First of all, I’d like to start by saying that the Commission is coordinating a strong European response to Covid-19, and this response is, as it has to be, multisectoral. It is, of course, about health, this is fundamentally a health crisis but it’s also about civil protection, about economic recovery and about global action, which is something the petitioner rightfully emphasizes.

Covid-19 has illustrated, if anyone doubted that before, the paramount role that health systems plays in our societies and in our economies, and it underpins our societies. And it has also revealed to everyone that our health systems were not prepared in all respects to face this challenge, and we need to invest more, particularly in areas like primary care, prevention and others.

On health, the Commission role is to help Member States coordinate their National responses to Covid-19. This is being done under European decision on serious crossborders threats to health and we have already mobilized all the mechanisms available. We frequently convene the Health Security Committee to facilitate information sharing about national measures to contain Covid-19 and recently also a discussion has started about the gradual de-escalation of those measures. We have also launched, accelerated, joint procurement procedures for key medical equipment, including protective gear for health workers, very important, but also for ventilators and laboratory equipment. In the light of this, the Commission has put all remaining allocations from the 2020 budget, an amount of 2.7 billion euros, to the emergency support instrument. With all of this going to finance health system needs, equipment, supplies and scaling up of testing and treatments.

We are also participating in the global race towards a much needed vaccine, which is the only way we can put this definitively behind us, and we have already secured just under 15 million euros from the Horizon2020 program for research on Covid-19 and, of course, other initiatives will follow in this respect.

Now, regarding the protection of EU citizens, the Commission has been delivering from the start of the crisis via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism: we have facilitated more than 260 repatriation flights, bringing home more than 53000 EU citizens stranded abroad. We have helped Member States provide in-kind assistance and expertise to each other, which is a great example of European solidarity. In addition, we have started stock-piling key medical equipment creating a first-of-its-kind rescue stockpile.

Covid-19 is not just a health crisis, but as I’ve said, the first and foremost, it has also caused a major shock to European economies, which calls for a visionary strategy for economic recovery and, here as well, the Commission is taking action on all fronts. Large emergency packages have already been launched and together with the other institutions we are working on a comprehensive recovery plan, including a recovery fund. Resources will come from the overall EU budget via a solid reinforcement of the Multiannual Financial Framework, which is currently being revised.

We want to kickstart European economies after the crisis and, at the same time, and I would like to emphasize this, deliver on other priorities, such as the digital and the green transition. Moreover, the Commission has made available all the remaining financing under the structural funds for the fight against Covid-19 under the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative. This is more than 37 billion euros in total, which is available to EU Member States this year through exceptional flexible and accelerated procedures. A second coronavirus response investment initiative has introduced extraordinary flexibility and simplification in the implementation of cohesion policy and included changes to the European aid to the most deprived to ensure that the most deprived, including homeless people and others, can continue to receive material assistance in a safe environment. Member States can use their country specific allocations to mitigate the economic consequences of the crisis, for example to support their economies, their health systems, their working population or small and medium enterprises. In addition, the European Globalization Adjustment Fund can be used to support workers who have permanently lost their job because of Covid-19.

But as the petitioner reminded us, global action is also needed. The Commission supports the WHO to boost preparedness, prevention and containment of Covid19 and we need to pay particular attention to countries with fragile health systems. On May 4th, therefore, together with WHO, and other global health organizations, we will kickstart a global pledging effort: the coronavirus global response to close funding gaps, which we estimate to be around 7.5 billion euros.

Honorable Members, dear petitioner, this is indeed a moment of truth and we need to ask ourselves, despite all our efforts, whether we are doing enough. Of course, we are all aware the EU has a limited mandate in heath, and the Commission can only step in to a certain extent, and Covid-19 shows us that there might be a need, there could be a need, to strengthen this mandate, and we must certainly discuss at the opportune time how to better deal with emergencies in future, and the great opportunity for this indeed be the Conference on the Future of Europe which will be held under due consideration to the current situation. The time will come, and I hope soon, when we will be looking forward again and at that moment the lessons learnt from Covid-19 have to be central to our efforts and it will be our responsibility to offer perspective for the future of the EU and to give EU citizens a clear say in decision-making beyond participation in the European elections. So, the Commission believes that it is really important that, in the light of all this, we discuss political priorities as well as the strategic agenda of the European Council, and there should be a robust feedback mechanism so that all ideas expressed are taken into account. We should also discuss, as the petitioner has also emphasized, the importance of the role that citizens play in not only speaking up, but also being listened to.

Thank you very much.”

Response by MEPs in the PETI Committee:


First of all, I would like to thank the petitioners for tabling this very detailed, very comprehensive petition to the EP in response to the Covid19 global crisis and also its social consequences. I would like to thank the Members of the PETI Committee, and the European Commission present here today to address this important issue to find a common solution which would work in favor of our citizens during the Covid19 crisis.

Now more than ever we need European solidarity in order to act together to tackle this crisis. This is true, that the virus does not discriminate between different Member States and our economies, but we have some Members States and some economies which are being hit in a different way. Therefore, we, as S&D, have to make sure that no Member State is left behind in these difficult times.

The shutdown of many EU countries demonstrates also the importance of having sophisticated digital infrastructure to keep our economies, our societies running, at least at basic level. Digital services have enabled many people to, at least, continue during these troublesome times to live their life as normally as possible, but I think that we should rise to the opportunity we have right now also to champion digital technologies that are developed, deployed and used in compliance with a set of ethical principles that fundamentally reflect also the European, our European, values. The EU response should not undermine our efforts to regulate the digital web and create a level playing field for the platform economy and the offline economy.

The EU response to this crisis should ensure that it helps consumers and their rights must be maintained, especially in the tourism and service sector. The European Commission should consider all available resources to cut consumers and help our industries to overcome the current challenges that we have in this extremely important sector, especially for a number of our Member States. 

With regard to mental health this is also another issue, mental health issues are on the rise right now and this is also a challenge with new labor conditions such as physical and psychological effects that teleworking is leaving for our workers. Therefore, it is really important to touch upon topics, important topics, such as the right to disconnect the surveillance at work and the intensification of work that re being accelerated during this crisis. It is important to preserve all working conditions and social rights.

Therefore, I must thank again, before I conclude, the petitioners for this petition and I urge the PETI Committee to leave this petition open, not only to leave it open, but also to act on this petition also with a resolution to be tabled in front of the PETI Committee to follow-up with all the other responsible committees within the European Parliament because this is a horizontal petition which is touching many aspects and that is impossible to touch upon all the issues raised in this petition just in one brief intervention.


TOOM Yana - Renew:

I fully support the previous speaker, I believe that we just cannot close any Covid19 related petition, due to the fact that it would send a wrong signal. What is bad in this case is that, you know, there were a big amount of all kinds of reports concerning European health system. Just to mention one in, it was the European Observatory of Health systems and policies with huge reports about possible risks and challenges for European health systems and all the measures which were listed now by the representative of the Commission were there, nothing happened, and this is really really bad.

You are absolutely right, our European mandate to intervene into these issues is too small, we cannot do much, but I believe we have to keep this kind of petitions open and to have an eye on them during the whole period of working of the Conference on the Future of Europe and it is exactly what was said by Mme .. concerning the previous petition on the border issue and, for instance, in Estonia our people were standing in a line on Polish border for 70 hours, locked in their cars with no toilets, no water, no food, no nothing, and then, there was the agreement between Prime Ministers that they will let people in, but finally they changed their mind and it was a disaster. And now in our countries in both States were basically cut off from the EU for several days. I believe that it will reflect in the rise of Euroskepticism.

What I want to say is that I am in favor of keeping this and the previous petition open during the period of, at least, work of the Conference on the Future of Europe, this is the place from where the people working on the Future of Europe can have a real good impact for their work.


GANCIA Gianna – ID:

Thank you for this opportunity, thank you president.

I support the petition, and I hope it will be sent to the AFCO and ECON committees and to be very quickly voted on in plenary on a parliamentary resolution.

A strong point of this petition is that although it comes about in an unprecedented serious health crisis situation caused by Covid19, it has 5 pillars which I feel are crucial for a radical reform of the EU, which are long-term too.

Allow me to say that it is particularly important to strengthen cohesion mechanisms when it comes to managing crisis because unfortunately, as everyone has seen, the first response by the EU to the health emergency was weak and showed a real lack of coordination among member states in Europe. We represent institutions and citizens and we must ensure that this cannot happen again, next time the risk is that it will be even more fatal.

In addition, it is extremely important that we focus on the Conference on the Future of Europe, we must focus on that because the Conference on the Future of Europe is really a call to alarm now. We see what is at stake, the very survival of the Union itself and we must all be up to the task.


Christina Maestre – S&D:

In the petition, the current system is analyzed, and it shows weaknesses. I think the greatest weakness is the lack of unity and solidarity in such difficult times like this one. We understand that there should be a more rapid response than that given at the start, particularly as regards such a complex issue.

I think the EU must ensure that its measures are accompanied by a whole range of other measures so we can deal with other situations that we’re facing. We must also ensure that we can prevent or, at least, stop the economic adverse effects that will occur. We can’t have any excuse, and we can’t use this crisis as an excuse to move backwards on issues such as equality, the Rule of Law, etc. so we must call for firmness and for support of an economic development model which is sustainable and which is green in line with the Green package and which does not go against the citizens’ interests. The EU’s role is now central, and this Conference on the Future of Europe is crucial in that regard.

I think we’ll have to go into more depth on this debate so I certainly welcome this initiative and I think we should transfer all these responsibilities to the committees in question, the relevant committees.

Thank you.


WAITZ Thomas - Greens:

I thank the Commission for that substantial and full of content statement, there were some key messages. One of the key messages is how key for Europe the healthcare systems are and that we witness now how important they are. Now, I mean, where are all the members that were lobbying or supporting the privatization of healthcare systems? Where are the ones that were supporting austerity measures that led to underfunding of healthcare systems and, at the end, these policies let to thousands of dead people. This is a failed political approach and we have to apologize for that first.

In the next step we need to acknowledge and realize that not having EU competences on healthcare and social issues is making Europe vulnerable as such, it is heavily affecting our economy and is heavily troubling us internally, so it’s not only a question of social equality or inclusiveness but also a question of economic success and strategic security issues that we have well-funded public healthcare systems and that we have a certain competence in the Union’s hands to exactly in such a situation combine the efforts and organize solidarity and well-organized approach to counter such a crisis. So, I think there’s need to move on in developing the competences of the European union, there’s no other option that doing that. The

The next point is the question on taxation that also is tackled by this petition. We also need some common decision-making processes on taxation. Taxation has to be also decided at EU level, it can’t be that companies hide their incomes from any public pocket and then ask for donations from taxpayers’ money. This is not only making us vulnerable internally but is making Europe vulnerable strategically globally in the global game, if we are so weak to not even be able to have a common response to Covid-19, I urge us not only to keep the petition open but to forward it to all the committees and to actively promote these points in the Conference on the Future of Europe.


KANEV Radan - EPP:

I support the colleagues to leave this really long and substantial petition open. I also propose to transfer the petition to the Conference on the Future of Europe because I think a lot of arguments in the petition need to be discussed over there.