Following the dramatic outbreak of Covid-19 we are called upon, as Europeans and EU Institutions, to be united and effective to win this fight. Measures at EU level are urgent to stop its spread.
S&D president Iratxe García said:
“Only with unity and solidarity can we overcome this crisis. First of all, I want to pay tribute to all healthcare workers for their outstanding work in these difficult times. We must acknowledge the important role of public health care systems, and how people are responding to very strong measures in countries like Italy. We are all in this together and we must act with responsibility and precaution. We must enhance the sharing of information, best practices and show solidarity when it comes to supplies needed in the most affected areas.
“As politicians, we are also responsible for anticipating any economic and social impact of this crisis. That is why we call without delay or hesitations for the full use of flexibility as predicted in the Stability and Growth Pact. Member states must invest as much as is needed to avoid the spread of the virus and take care of the ill.
“However, fiscal flexibility is not enough. We should provide ourselves with the fiscal capacity to activate counter-cyclical policies and direct-targeted actions. Additional financial support should be made available. The European Investment Bank should make use of all its facilities to provide SMEs with emergency liquidity, support the financing for the most affected economic sectors and protect jobs.”
S&D spokesperson in the environment committee and rapporteur on the Covid-19 resolution, Jytte Guteland, said:
“It is now, in the face of a health threat like the Covid-19 crisis, that Europe must be united, effective and protect citizens. EU citizens want more than just words, but rightly expect concrete measures capable of delivering a coordinated and common response to reduce the spread of the virus. Containing the virus as much as possible will prevent an overburdening of our national healthcare systems, while also buying time for the development of a vaccine and potential treatments.
“We Socialists and Democrats welcome the European Commission’s decision to commit around 50 million euros to finance vaccine and treatment research. However, this cannot be enough.
"The EU is using joint procurement to purchase personal protection equipment, including face masks, but we call on the EU Commission to make the joint procurement procedure faster, and to make further use of it for equipment such as ventilators, diagnostics and future treatments. This will ensure that all member states can rely on equal access to equipment, treatments and vaccines, avoiding unacceptable price speculation.
S&D vice-president responsible for health, Heléne Fritzon, added:
“We must continue to inform, cooperate and take measures to prevent more people from being affected. Europe should be ready to respond to the economic and social impact of the outbreak. For this, member states should use the additional fiscal flexibility they are entitled to in these circumstances. We cannot let this health emergency turn into a new recession and our citizens must be able to trust that the EU and its member states are working on all levels to contain the virus.
“We cannot ignore the social impact that COVID-19 is having. Full rights of workers, such as flexible working arrangements and paid medical leave in case of quarantine, should be guaranteed.
“One lesson this crisis is teaching us is that, in the long term, all member states need to strengthen their social security and public health systems, providing well-equipped, high-quality healthcare infrastructures equally accessible for all.”