EP President, David Sassoli: ”Today the watchword for Europe is solidarity. No one will be left alone and no one will act alone.”
As part of the EU’s joint response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the European Parliament adopted on Thursday a set of emergency measures. Most of the MEPs voted online. Thus, the Corona Response Initiative was approved, meant to channel 37 billion euros from available EU funds to citizens, regions and countries hit the hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. The funds will be directed towards healthcare systems, SMEs, labour markets and other vulnerable parts of EU member states’ economies.
Also approved was the extension of the EU Solidarity Fund, to cover public health emergencies. The measures will make up to 800 million euros available for European countries in 2020. Operations eligible under the Fund will be extended to include support in a major public health emergency, including medical assistance, as well as measures to prevent, monitor or control the spread of diseases. MEPs also decided to temporarily suspend EU rules on airport slots. This will stop air carriers from operating empty flights during the pandemic. The 'use it or lose it' rule will be waived for the whole summer season, from 29 of March until 24 of October 2020.
The head of the European Parliament, David Sassoli and the 32 MEPs present in the Parliament hall, asked for more solidarity between member states. They called on countries to collaborate keep their borders open for the transport of medical equipment and goods. Sassoli gave assurances that the European Parliament will continue to work, in spite of the pandemic, as the only way to serve people, communities and the medical staff who put their lives at risk in European hospitals. ”We must act together in Europe. We should do more. Today the watchword for Europe is solidarity. No one will be left alone and no one will act alone,” the EP President said. In her turn, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pointed out that the free movement of goods and services is the only way to provide regions with what they need, and pleaded for joint action and for the preservation of the single market.
Also on Thursday, an emergency summit of the G20 countries was held via conference call, with leaders pledging to inject over 5 trillion dollars into the global economy, as part of targeted fiscal policy, economic measures, and guarantee schemes to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic. Also, they announced an increase in production to meet the demand for medical equipment and pledged to ensure the flow of vital medical supplies, critical agricultural products and other goods and services across borders and to resolve disruptions to the global supply chains. The G20 group was joined by the countries affected by the coronavirus, such as Spain, Jordan, Singapore and Switzerland and by leaders of international organisations such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Health Organisation and the World Trade Organisation. (Translated by Elena Enache)