Saturday, 10 Jun 2023

BBC Coronavirus: EU warned to ‘learn from crisis’ to achieve ‘stronger coordination’

The European Union has come under fire over its alleged lack of immediate response to help member states cope with the growing coronavirus pandemic. Brussels was warned the COVID-19 crisis could reignite and strengthen eurosceptic feelings among member states feeling like the bloc has abandoned its citizens because of a lack of cooperation among the EU27. Asked whether Brussels could choose to respond to future crises with “more powers concentrated” in the hands of eurocrats in the future, POLITICO’s Barbara Moens told BBC Radio 5 Live Politics: “We’ve already seen the Health Commissioner being very active.

“But indeed, national health systems are very national and they also usually have a long history behind them.

“It’s not necessarily the right thing to say, ‘ok, let’s make it all one system all over Europe.’

“But certainly, to have stronger coordination, even an exchange of best practices – there’s much we can do, we need to learn from this crisis in order to do better next time.”

A Tecné survey conducted on behalf of Agenzia Dire between March 12 and 13 of 1,000 Italian adults found 88 percent of respondents do not think the European Union is helping Italy tackle the coronavirus threat.

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The same survey also compared support for Italy’s membership of the European Union in November 2019 with the support rate amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The poll found 67 percent of respondents now think membership of the bloc is a “disadvantage” for Italy compared to 47 percent three months ago.

Germany’s decision to shut down borders with France, Switzerland and Austria from Monday also cast doubts on Brussels’ ability to lead a coordinated response to coronavirus.

Italy last month applied for help from fellow member states through the EU’s Union Civil Protection Mechanism regulating, the bloc’s emergency response system charged with forwarding calls for help to other member states.

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The country’s permanent representative to the EU Maurizio Massari said: “We asked for supplies of medical equipment, and the European Commission forwarded the appeal to the member states.

“But it didn’t work.”

Germany and France blocked exports of medical supplies to Italy over fears shortages could affect their own response to coronavirus, with Berlin consequently relaxing the rules.

Following criticism, the European Union intervened and announced the bloc has adopted measures to curb the export of medical protective gear outside the European Union to help member states.


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In a video posted on Sunday on Twitter, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “We need to help each other.

“By producing more, keeping it in the European Union and sharing with each other we can protect our health workers and patients and contain the spread of the virus.”

“If we do not take action now, shops will start facing difficulties in refilling their stocks of certain products coming from elsewhere in the single market.”

Ms von der Leyen continued: “Protecting people’s health should not block goods and essential staff from reaching patients, health systems, factories and shops.”

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