NEWS AND MEASURES FROM THE EU
Plenary: MEPs call for a more unified EU response
Prior to a crucial urgency vote on the first batch of measures proposed by the Commission to help members states tackle the pandemic in an efficient and coordinated way, MEPs called for EU countries to collaborate and to keep internal borders open to allow medical equipment and goods to be delivered.
More information here.
EP President Sassoli’s press conference following his interventions in plenary and in the European Council meeting
President Sassoli held a press conference after plenary session in Brussels. He stated that we need the democratic process to help us overcome this emergency. These are days of reflections: first we need to try and identify the tools we need for the medium and long-term. He reiterated the institutions have provided an initial response and we [the Parliament] welcome the Commission’s intervention and package. They [the Commission] have revised the Stability and Growth Pact within massive intervention from the European Central Bank which is usually important for the financial stability of Member States. “We need creativity, we need new capacities, we need to ensure extraordinary measures to respond to a crisis like this, it is not enough just to tweak the instruments that already exist. That’s why we have called upon Heads of States and Governments to accept their responsibilities at this time.”
More information here.
EU Parliament votes emergency financial measures in extraordinary plenary
The European Parliament overwhelmingly approved two financial support’s packages for countries affected by coronavirus outbreak:
1. an investment initiative of 37 € billions to promote investments in the sectors affected by the crisis;
2. a widening of the scope of the EU Solidarity Fund up to 800 € millions covering now public health crises in addition to original support to countries affected by natural disasters.
The Council still has to formally approve Parliament’s position. The adopted measures will enter into force once published in the Official Journal of the European Union in the coming days.
More information on the European Parliament’s website.
On April 2, Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, will be discussing with MEPs members of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee on the EU response to the COVID-19 outbreak. MEPs of the same Committee will be then exchanging views on AI in education, culture and the audiovisual sector.
Eurogroup: Governments and institutions in the EU are taking decisive measures
Eurogroup President Mario Centeno said on 24 March 2020 there was a broad support to consider a pandemic crisis support safeguard based on an existing European Stability Mechanism precautionary instrument.
The Eurogroup gathered for a video conference on the same day to discuss policy responses to the COVID-19 economic fallout: “First, there is a clear increase in our fiscal response. In one week alone, the total amount of the fiscal measures at national level has doubled and is now estimated at 2% of GDP. Liquidity support schemes for firms and workers have been scaled up from 10% to more than 13% of GDP. Second, coordinated measures at the European level are being deployed, supplementing national efforts. Third, we have started a debate on additional forms of support to reinforce crisis management and prepare the ground for the economic recovery.”
Leaders clash over stimulus against pandemic during virtual summit
EU heads of state and government disagreed on the economic response to coronavirus including a joint debt instrument, the so-called ‘corona bonds’, proposed by 9 Members States including Italy and Spain mostly hit by the crisis. Germany and the Netherlands did not accept joint debt instruments and proposed instead to use the European Stability Mechanism’s 410 € billion available. The European Council failed to reach an agreement and asked the Eurogroup of finance ministers to propose solutions to the economic fallout from the coronavirus within the next two weeks. Journalists said: the fight over financing instruments overshadowed an array of other steps that EU leaders have taken in recent weeks to strengthen the overall response to the pandemic, including new joint procurement measures for essential medical equipment; a 30-day ban on non-essential travellers from outside the EU; and better coordination over internal border restrictions.
European Council: joint statement
On 26 March, the members of the European Council followed up, by video conference, on the EU’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. They also addressed EU enlargement, the earthquake in Croatia and the situation at the EU’s external borders.
Commission to develop coordinated ‘exit strategy’ from lockdowns
The European Union’s national leaders working to develop a coordinated “exit strategy” to prepare the measures necessary to lift social isolation and get back to a normal functioning of societies.
EUROPE / WORLD
G20 leaders vow ‘whatever it takes’ to fight virus and rescue economy
G20 leaders committed to inject $5 trillion in fiscal spending into the global economy to fight the coronavirus crisis. The leaders issued a joint statement urging a coordinated international response — including the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank — both to contain the pandemic and to address the accompanying economic shock. And in all respects, they pledged a “whatever it takes” approach.
Coronavirus: No end in sight
EU politicians and policymakers can’t say when lockdowns will be lifted and what these stringent measures would accomplish.
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