In the circumstances of growing pandemic of COVID-19 coronavirus in Europe, and especially among the EU member states – we express our concerns by the reactions of member states which have, albeit somewhat understandably but not justifiably, irrationally focused on protecting their national interests, ignoring the fact that we are in the midst of a global pandemic which is impossible to contain on a national level.
This is particularly noticeable in distribution and production of medical equipment. It is understandable that member states can prioritize protecting their own populations, but messages that speak to a lack of solidarity with other vulnerable people undermine the international solidarity necessary to overcome this pandemic.
We support all efforts taken by the EU and its member states to date, but we also believe it is possible to improve them and strengthen the policies of international solidarity which are paramount in overcoming this crisis as quickly as possible.
Accordingly, we ask that Croatia, as a presiding member of the Council of the EU, calls for an extraordinary session of the Council in order to adopt decisions on a common reaction by the EU to the current crisis, which will include:
- EU doing everything in its power to protect its citizens from falling ill by releasing additional funds aimed at public health systems
- Mapping all available medical and protective equipment manufactured at the EU territory and agreeing that 90% of the equipment should be kept for the needs of the member states, while the remaining 10% could be used for fast interventions in Europe and other global hotspots which are spiraling out of control (e.g. Italy and Iran).
- Member states financially supporting the solidarity fund established by the World Health Organization (WHO)
- In addition to announced economic measures from the EU and national budgets, the Council of the EU should also appeal to private sector stakeholders with large capital reserves to contribute by donating to public financial funds aimed at alleviating negative socio-economic consequences of the pandemic
- A long-term commitment to strengthening systems of civil protection, especially in those member states that have neglected it
- Showing solidarity towards refugees and migrants on the EU’s external borders and in overcrowded containment camps, which are a particularly vulnerable group given the poor hygiene and health conditions in which they currently live
Without a clear commitment and understanding that this crisis can only be overcome through global partnership, the number of lost human lives will be far greater. The EU needs to show solidarity with the Global South and developing countries where the peak of the pandemic is yet to follow, and which own fewer resources for its containment, due to their weaker public health infrastructure. These actions will strengthen the European Union’s role as a global leader in the policies of development aid and solidarity.