Procedure : 2020/2616(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B9-0146/2020

Texts tabled :

B9-0146/2020

Debates :

PV 16/04/2020 - 17
CRE 16/04/2020 - 17

Votes :

Texts adopted :

P9_TA(2020)0054

<Date>{14/04/2020}14.4.2020</Date>
<NoDocSe>B9‑0146/2020</NoDocSe>
PDF 172kWORD 62k

<TitreType>MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION</TitreType>

<TitreSuite>to wind up the debate on the statements by the Council and the Commission</TitreSuite>

<TitreRecueil>pursuant to Rule 132(2) of the Rules of Procedure</TitreRecueil>


<Titre>on EU action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences</Titre>

<DocRef>(2020/2616(RSP))</DocRef>


<RepeatBlock-By><Depute>Iratxe García Pérez</Depute>

<Commission>{S&D}on behalf of the S&D Group</Commission>

</RepeatBlock-By>

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0143/2020

B9‑0146/2020

European Parliament resolution on EU action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences

(2020/2616(RSP))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to Rule 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the global and European spread of COVID-19 has already tragically cost the lives of many thousands of people in Europe and the world, causing irreparable damage and confining over a billion people to their homes;

B. whereas under Article 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), public health is a competence shared among the Member States, which define and deliver their own national health services and medical care, and the EU, which has the competence to take action complementing national action, including the prevention of physical illness and diseases, combating serious cross-border threats to health, and encouraging cooperation among the Member States;

C. whereas the Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO) sets out that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition;

D. whereas the disruptive effect of our economy being put on hold on EU citizens, businesses, workers and the self-employed will be both dramatic and immeasurable;

E. whereas solidarity is not an option but an obligation and Article 222 TFEU provides that the Union and its Member States shall act in a spirit of solidarity with one another in the face of disaster, mobilising all available instruments;

F. whereas the current symmetric and exogenous shock is currently affecting all Member States, and its direct social and economic repercussions will affect all – directly or indirectly – in the months to come;

G. whereas the Commission has already taken initial action, including a package of measures voted on by Parliament during its plenary session on 26 March 2020;

H. whereas thus far, the European Council has been unable to reach consensus on the economic measures needed to tackle the crisis;

I. whereas women, due to confinement measures, are more exposed to domestic violence and other forms of violence and may not have access to appropriate support structures that provide advice, shelter and sexual and reproductive health services; whereas at the same time, women are vital to the recovery and maintenance of public life and essential services, as they represent around 70 % of the global healthcare and social workforce;

J. whereas an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic requires global cooperation and solidarity;

K. whereas Parliament, as co-legislator, joint budgetary authority and the only institution directly elected by universal suffrage, must be included as an integral and essential part of all discussions on the EU’s response to this crisis and the subsequent recovery, and in particular its President must be included in all relevant videoconferences;

 

Together in solidarity: addressing the health and societal impacts

1. Is deeply saddened by the human tragedy that the pandemic has inflicted on Europeans, their families and people all over the globe; conveys its deepest and most heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost loved ones, expresses compassion for those who are unwell and wishes them a speedy recovery;

2. Stands in awe and admiration of all those who are working on the front line to fight the pandemic, such as doctors, nurses and other support staff; expresses its sincere gratitude to all those who carry out other essential duties to maintain public life and guarantee access to essential goods and services, particularly in the retail, transport, food supply, cleaning, agricultural and fisheries sectors; considers that it is the duty of the EU and its Member States to provide maximum support to these key workers and recognise the daily sacrifices they make;

3. Expresses concern regarding the impact of the crisis, including confinement, on the most vulnerable in society, such as the homeless, migrants, persons with disabilities, mobile workers and domestic abuse victims, especially women and children; calls on the EU and its Member States to urgently put in place targeted support measures, including engaging in awareness-raising and promoting hotlines, sources of advice and the creation of ‘safe havens’ where the most vulnerable can obtain shelter and support; stresses that persons with disabilities should have non-discriminatory access to medical treatment and urgent care, in particular those persons who live in residential institutions, since they are more at risk of infection;

4. Expresses its solidarity with the countries hit hardest by the virus, in particular Italy and Spain; emphasises that the EU and all Member States must show full solidarity with those most in need and should come together as a community in order to ensure that no Member State is left to fight this virus and its aftermath on its own;

5. Believes that the COVID-19 crisis has exposed shortcomings in the EU’s and the Member States’ crisis preparedness and is concerned that the initial slow reaction, lack of solidarity among some Member States, and chronic under-investment in public and social services has been detrimental to the EU’s capacity to combat the pandemic and its consequences;

6. Stresses that European unity and solidarity are the most effective way to tackle and eventually emerge from the crisis; stresses that we stand stronger together; welcomes the cases of European solidarity shown to date by Member States, including treating patients from other Member States, supplying vital healthcare and personal protective equipment or assistance in repatriating citizens;

7. Stresses the need for a common EU response and, in this respect, welcomes the initiatives proposed thus far by the Commission, including:

I. The Joint Procurement Mechanism used for the purchase of personal protective equipment, ventilators, and testing kits; calls on the Commission and Member States to use this mechanism to procure future treatments and vaccines in order to ensure equal access in the EU and avoid price speculation;

ii. Guidelines on public procurement; notes, however, that these only apply to medical devices and equipment; stresses the need for flexibility for the procurement of other goods needed in hospitals or administration; asks the Commission to consider using the scope for flexibility laid down in Article 6(6) of the Procurement Directive[1] to temporarily change the threshold levels;

iii. The strategic rescEU stockpiling initiative for a common EU reserve of medical equipment, with the EU financing 100 % of the cost of stockpiling and managing distribution to ensure equipment can be directed to where it is most needed;

iv. Repatriation of more than 10 000 EU citizens through flights facilitated by the EU Civil Protection Mechanism; calls for such efforts to continue and be intensified;

v. Requiring exports of medical equipment destined for outside the EU to be subject to an export authorisation, thus allowing the Member States to lift their own national export restrictions, which were hampering intra-EU solidarity;

vi. Directing EUR 48.5 million from the Horizon research programme towards the fight against the virus, including for epidemiology and data modelling, treatments and vaccines;

vii. Providing EUR 80 million financial support to quickly scale up the development and production of a COVID-19 vaccine;

viii. Increased funding and mobilisation of funds for the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the Emergency Support Instrument;

8. Emphasises the need for a coordinated exit strategy, to ensure that the Members States’ actions are complementary and do not undermine each other’s efforts, as only by fully working together can a smooth, effective and safe exit from confinement measures be guaranteed, and future waves be avoided or minimised;

9. Stresses that it will do everything in its power and work closely with the other EU institutions to bring assistance to every Member State in need and to overcome the crisis, including the swift adoption of urgent legislative initiatives;

10. Highlights the crucial importance of policies that ensure the reliable and quality supply of food from agriculture, fisheries and food businesses during and beyond the immediate health crisis, and the need to support these sectors and safeguard their continued production and barrier-free transport across the single market for food and other essentials, including via green corridors; stresses the need to adopt additional urgent measures for the fisheries and aquaculture sectors to address the loss in income that these sectors are experiencing, including the possibility to carry over up to 25 % of the unused fishing quotas to next year; acknowledges, furthermore, the key role of the transport sector, in particular drivers, who must have access to essential hygienic facilities and food along the road and whose working conditions (e.g. driving and rest times) must not be undermined; stresses that the Member States must comply with existing EU rules;

11. Calls for the budget and staff levels of the ECDC to be substantially strengthened in order to support their work in the monitoring of medical observation, surveillance and intelligence data and to provide guidance to the Member States; stresses that such guidance should be fully implemented to ensure comparable data and an EU-wide public health response; further calls for the role of the European Medical Agency (EMA) in clinical trials to be strengthened and for the swift implementation of the Clinical Trials Regulation[2], which will facilitate and accelerate large-scale European clinical trials;

12. Stresses that solidarity is best expressed and can be most effective through a strategic and well structured common European response to the pandemic and this means that borders must remain open within the EU for the circulation of personal protective equipment, medicine, blood-derived products and organs; further emphasises the need to facilitate the transportation of patients from saturated hospitals in one Member State to another where capacity is still available and welcomes the Commission’s coordination of this;

13. Expresses its deep concern at the situation of refugees and asylum-seekers in hotspots and detention centres, who do not have access to adequate healthcare and are particularly at risk; insists that the most vulnerable who are trapped on the overcrowded Greek islands (those who are over 60, persons with pre-existing conditions, minors and in particular unaccompanied minors) be evacuated and relocated to other Member States and to the Greek mainland; suggests that, as a first step, they be moved to hotels or other alternative accommodation in order to limit the spread of the virus;

14. Welcomes the addition of directing of funds from the Horizon research programme towards the fight against the virus; calls on the Member States to significantly increase support for research, development and innovation programmes that can help to understand the disease, speed up diagnosis and the testing and development of a vaccine; calls on hospitals and researchers to share data with the EMA, and to enter into large-scale European clinical trials; highlights the need to support measures favouring open science in order to accelerate the sharing of data and research results within the scientific community in Europe and beyond; insists that any publicly funded research must stay in the public domain; believes that Europe’s researchers, innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and industry can offer the world a cure; stresses that effective testing, treatment and potential vaccines must be accessible to all citizens, free of charge and stresses that once available, the vaccine must be available to all Member States on equal terms and conditions; requests a common and standardised approach to testing and data collection in all Member States and suggests promoting an EU-wide serological survey, the results of which should be available as soon as possible, in order to understand the scope of the current crisis and better prepare for any COVID-19 resurgence and other future crises;

15. Insists that once the immediate crisis is overcome, there should be no repeat of the failed austerity experiment that followed the 2008 financial crash, and that investment in national public health systems must not fall; stresses that, on the contrary, more investment must be provided, reinforcing the training and hiring of medical staff with sufficient resources for medical equipment and decent salaries;

16. Insists that the lessons learned from the current crisis in terms of insufficient emergency planning and emergency response capacities in the health, economic and social fields must be put to good use and the Commission should come forward with a proposal for a broad-based and ambitious EU resilience strategy in the near future, including climate adaptation and the impact of biodiversity loss;

17. Suggests that this strategy could include proposing greater powers for the EU to act in the case of health threats, with new and strengthened instruments to ensure that in future the EU can act without delay to coordinate the response at EU level, and direct resources to where they are most needed, be they material (e.g. face masks, respirators and medicines) or financial and enable the collection of quality, standardised data;

18. Highlights with concern the shortages of some medicines, including those used in intensive care; underlines the importance of maintaining the production, supply, distribution, development and equal access to high-quality medicines, coordinated by the EMA; notes with concern the export bans placed on some medicines globally and welcomes the engagement by the Commission with key players such as the USA, India and China to secure the supply of such medicines; underlines that the experimental use of medicines to treat COVID-19 must not lead to shortages for patients with other conditions, including HIV and Lupus, who depend on these medicines;

 

Emerging from the crisis towards a new economic, social and ecological model

19. Recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic is shaking the EU’s economic and social foundations, and that we urgently require an effective, common political response to avoid damaging our economic prosperity, social welfare and social cohesion for years to come, which could have dire political consequences; further recognises that the crisis is exposing divisions among certain geographical groups of Member States and that finding an effective and pragmatic response will require cool heads, the acknowledgement of the unprecedented situation facing us all, and a willingness to abandon previously long-held, entrenched positions;

20. Believes that in order to emerge from this crisis in the best possible way, we cannot repeat the mistakes of blind austerity that followed the 2008 crisis, which the people in the EU will no longer tolerate; calls, instead, for a major rethinking of our economic model, for the very first time putting economic, social and ecological goals on a par with one another, abandoning the business-as-usual approach and fully investing all our efforts in the European Green Deal as a vehicle for bringing about major economic and societal transformation;

21. Believes that the European Semester and the new Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy need to be further reframed and updated to guide the European economic and social recovery strategy while fully integrating the UN Sustainable Development Goals, namely by putting economic, social and ecological goals on equal footing and by becoming the governance tool for achieving a truly sustainable, fair and resilient European Union;

22. Cautions against listening to those regressive voices, which would use this crisis to argue for continuation of the status quo, the rolling back of social and environmental protections, or scaling back our climate change ambitions; believes that this would be counterproductive and would only lead us into potentially graver future health-related, economic and ecological crises; appeals to the other European institutions and to national governments to unite behind a crisis exit strategy that will protect the EU from future crises by making it far more resilient and cohesive;

23. Highlights the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic will have the most severe impact on the most vulnerable and marginalised in society and increase the risk of poverty, social exclusion and the exacerbation of regional inequality; insists, therefore, that nobody and no region should be left behind; condemns any discrimination against any particular group of individuals;

24. Recalls the important contribution of many migrants and descendants of migrants who are working to ensure the proper functioning of many essential sectors across the EU, and in particular the health and care sectors; welcomes initiatives taken at Member-State level in response to the crisis to regularise undocumented migrants and encourages other Member States to follow suit;

25. Welcomes the measures that have been taken so far at EU level, amounting to 2 % of EU gross domestic product (GDP) in fiscal measures and 13 % of EU GDP in liquidity support including:

i. The activation of the General Escape Clause of the Stability and Growth Pact, thus allowing the Member States to undertake measures to deal adequately with the crisis, while departing from the budgetary requirements that would normally apply under the European fiscal framework;

ii. The Temporary Framework for State aid measures, which allows the Member States to provide direct support to hard-hit companies and small firms that are at risk of closing down; considers that this temporary framework should be maintained for as long as is necessary;

iii. The Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, which has mobilised financial resources worth EUR 37 billion for healthcare systems, SMEs, labour markets, and other vulnerable sectors;

iv. Extending the scope of the European Union Solidarity Fund, meaning that the EUR 800 million available can now be used to tackle the crisis;

v. The Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme from the European Central Bank (ECB) with an envelope of EUR 750 billion until the end of the year, which coupled with a previously agreed EUR 120 billion of public and private asset purchases amounts to 7.3 % of euro area GDP;

vi. The European Investment Bank (EIB) Group Support Action Plan with a EUR 25 billion pan-European guarantee fund, allowing the EIB, in partnership with national promotional banks and institutions, to scale-up its coronavirus response for SMEs, midcaps and larger corporates in Europe from EUR 40 billion to around EUR 240 billion;

vii. Implementing green lanes to ensure the continuous supply and distribution of essential goods and vital medical and protective equipment, the movement of essential workers and the supply of essential services within the single market;

26. Stresses that companies receiving public financial support should be prohibited from paying dividends to stakeholders and bonuses to management and should pledge to maintain existing jobs and guarantee decent workplace rights and employment conditions; underlines that support measures should by no means interfere with industrial relations or undermine workers’ rights;

27. Considers that much more needs to be done to overcome the crisis and fight its economic and social consequences given that this is a new and unique situation that requires flexibility, creativity and innovative solutions at EU level that are commensurate with the challenge;

28. Calls, in this respect, for the following economic and social measures to be taken as a matter of urgency:

i. The creation of ‘Corona-bonds’ issued by a European institution, targeted for specific costs linked to the COVID-19 outbreak and guaranteed by a purchase programme of the European Central Bank;

ii. The activation of the European Stability Mechanism with a specific credit line to ensure liquidity, avoid interest rate spreads of national public bonds to support the immediate health and economic costs of the crisis, with no macroeconomic conditionality, and with long-term maturities, competitive pricing and repayment conditions linked to the recovery of Member States’ economies;

iii. The launch of the EIB’s pan-European Guarantee, with appropriate investment policy, in order to support the economy, in particular SMEs, while also guaranteeing coordination with national promotional banks and institutions and commercial banks in order to fully exploit the financing capacity all over the EU and to reach micro-enterprises with less access to financing;

iv. The launch of an ambitious package of fiscal measures implemented both at EU and national level, in order to boost internal demand immediately after the confinement phase; underlines that all of these measures will require some kind of common fiscal policy, in order to prevent the economic answer to this crisis coming from the monetary side alone;

v. A loan guarantee for first-home owners in order to prevent mortgage default, together with a specific scheme to protect tenants from eviction during the crisis;

vi. The launch of the Unemployment Reinsurance Scheme and swift implementation of the temporary European Support Scheme Mitigating Unemployment Risks in Emergency (SURE), which must have meaningful resources to address potentially massive unemployment depending on the speed of recovery;

vii. A comprehensive European Social Recovery strategy, incorporating the above-mentioned unemployment support schemes, an enhanced European Child Guarantee, a comprehensive Anti-Poverty Strategy, and the strengthening of social security systems that must provide for the generalisation of minimum income schemes; stresses that such a strategy should be defined in close dialogue with social partners and focus on the most vulnerable and be gender-mainstreamed;

viii. Further proposals to fight tax avoidance, tax competition and money laundering to release additional financial resources; calls for the swift adoption of the digital services tax, a financial transaction tax, Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base, public country by country reporting, and a swift agreement on the carbon border adjustment mechanism;

ix. Measures to prevent a crisis in food prices and stabilise agricultural and fisheries markets, supporting farmers and fishers and safeguarding EU food security and particularly ensuring access to food for the most deprived people; stresses that such measures should include not only the full range of interventions available under the common organisation of the markets (CMO) regulation[3], such as private storage aid, but also using unspent rural development funds, flexibility between direct payments and rural development funds, ad-hoc liquidity injections for at-risk farmers, livestock producers and cooperatives, while protecting workers and preventing labour shortages that risk disrupting supply chains;

x. The launch of an EU-wide scheme to guarantee residency rights and equal access to social and employment protection schemes for all EU citizens living and working in another Member State, who may lose their job or residency status due to the crisis;

29. Believes that the EU needs a post-crisis economic recovery plan and a wider economic transformation – a new Marshall plan – in order to kick-start the economy while at the same time bringing about the necessary ecological transition and digital transformation of our societies in order to ensure social cohesion notably through massive investment in the development of public infrastructure, shaping the European way of life for the 21st century and channelling the necessary funds to public services, education research and development to be better prepared for future health crises; stresses this should be financed through ‘sustainability bonds’;

30. Considers the European Green Deal as the new economic recovery plan that is required post-COVID-19, as an already-existing plan that has the potential to rebuild our economy, ensure resilience, create jobs and protect people’s well-being and health from further risks and negative environmental impacts; highlights the climate and environment emergency and the fact that climate change and habitat loss increases the risk of new emerging pathogens and pandemics, including the spread of viruses from one species to another; underlines the importance of strengthening climate legislation as a matter of urgency to ensure that the EU becomes a carbon-neutral economy no later than 2050 and at the same time enshrines the fight against climate change, the degradation of the environment and the transition to a climate-neutral economy as the core of the EU’s economic strategy; calls, in this regard, on the Commission to present ambitious proposals that can deliver a European Green Deal that lives up to the expectations of our citizens starting with a target of at least 55 % CO2 reduction for 2030;

31. Welcomes as a first step forward the Commission’s acceptance of Parliament’s demand to revise its proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF); believes that the shape, size and financing of the EU’s budget will be crucial for the EU’s social and economic recovery plans and to respond to the challenges arising from the pandemic; further believes that, should the next MFF not be agreed in time, it will be essential to put forward a contingency plan that protects beneficiaries of EU programmes, including those related to tackling the COVID-19 crisis;

32. Suggests, however, that a more radical and progressive post-crisis economic recovery plan is required, which should contribute to the social and economic convergence of the economies of the Member States and should consist of, inter alia, the following actions:

i. Completing the European Monetary Union including through the creation of a European Treasury empowered to issue Eurobonds on a stable basis and supported by a meaningful fiscal capacity that also provides for a stabilisation function; stresses that this would allow EU policies to be steered using the Community method rather than an intergovernmental approach and that it would support the ongoing efforts of the Member States to make sustainable public investments and structural reforms, thus reducing macroeconomic imbalances across the EU; notes that such action would also solidify and stabilise economic and social recovery and provide financial clout to pursue the European Green Deal;

ii. Reformed European fiscal rules, including the Stability and Growth Pact, to reinforce countercyclical capacity and turn them into an incentive for the significant public investment needs arising from the European Green Deal;

iii. Revise and extend EU Own Resources in order to reduce gross national income contributions from the Member States and increase the amount of fresh revenue that is required to implement the new European policy agenda;

iv. A new EU industrial policy with a genuine level playing field for a more competitive and resilient industry in the face of global shocks, reintegrating and strengthening strategic chains inside the EU and increasing EU production, supply, distribution and development of key and critical products such as medicines, pharmaceutical ingredients, medical devices, equipment and materials, especially those used for intensive care; stresses that the (re)nationalisation of key industrial sectors should not be excluded where they are necessary; stresses, in this regard, that the digitalisation of EU industry, as well as the development of EU industrial champions, should be a priority in order to reinforce preparedness for future global challenges; notes that artificial intelligence and data are crucial in order to track the epidemic in real-time, to predict its development and to prepare an effective response;

33. Considers that confinement measures have also highlighted how important it is to have access to a high-quality internet connection, in particular to support online working, learning and schooling, especially in remote areas; highlights that all those who do not have access to the internet, be it for economic, technical or literacy reasons, are subject to double exclusion; calls for the acceleration of EU digital transition programmes, with particular emphasis on the quality of content and inclusion; underlines, therefore, the need for a reduction of fares and for an ultrafast connectivity of at least 100 Mbps for all in order to empower citizens to access new content, applications and services that are essential for promoting social inclusion, businesses and EU competitiveness, especially during the confinement period;

34. Considers that the transport and tourism sectors have been severely affected and calls for action to ensure the health, safety and working conditions of transport workers and that transport companies can survive the crisis; suggests that in the tourism sector a prevention and management mechanism should be developed together with a forward-looking plan at EU level to ensure that tourism workers and all related companies can survive this crisis and prepare for a sustainable future while taking into account consumer rights at all times; stresses, in parallel, that passenger safety should be ensured at all times;

35. Calls for support to be provided to the cultural and creative sectors in overcoming this crisis as they are often neglected but play an important role in our economy as well as in our social life;

36. Highlights that the current crisis has shown that our educational systems are not as resilient as they should be; considers it therefore essential that educational infrastructure, both online and offline, be significantly upgraded (i.e. through the European Regional Development Fund) and that educators and pupils are provided with the necessary skills and equipment for future possible home-schooling situations; stresses, in that regard, that an increase in e-learning can result in a further increase in social inequalities; welcomes, therefore, the initiative of the Commission to revise and update the Digital Education Action Plan to better adapt the strategy and coordinate EU and Member State efforts in this area;

 

Democracy, European Values and Fundamental Rights

37. Underlines that the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union must continue to apply and that compliance with democratic principles, the rule of law and fundamental rights must be ensured; underlines, in the context of emergency measures, that the authorities must ensure that everyone enjoys the same protection; stresses that even where a state of emergency is imposed in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Member States must still observe national constitutional and international standards, EU values and the European and international human rights framework; insists that any emergency powers granted must be proportionate, necessary, limited in time, provide for an effective remedy and be subject to democratic scrutiny and ethical considerations;

38. Expresses, in this regard, its deepest concerns about the Hungarian Prime Minister’s undemocratic behaviour, and warns against the shift to a dictatorship; believes that, especially due to the indefinite and uncontrolled nature of these measures, they represent a serious and persistent breach of the values referred to in Article 2 of the Treaty On European Union (TEU), which cannot be tolerated in a Member State and is clearly incompatible with EU values and consequently EU membership;

39. Calls, therefore, for the Commission to urgently assess whether the emergency measures are in conformity with the Treaties and to make full use of all available EU tools and sanctions to address this serious and persistent breach, including budgetary ones, underlining once again the urgent need for an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights; urges the Council to put back on its agenda the discussions and procedures related to the ongoing Article 7 procedure against Hungary;

40. Condemns the decision of the Polish Government to proceed with May’s Presidential election despite the COVID-19 pandemic, given the risk to public health, and the unfair advantage that this could give to the incumbent;

41. Stresses that disinformation about COVID-19 at this time is a major public health concern and that all citizens have the right to accurate and verified information, including about the action taken by the EU to combat the pandemic; calls for the EU and the Member States to work together to urgently counter such disinformation and to tackle the risks posed to citizens by misleading advertising and unsafe products sold online; stresses that it is of crucial importance to take action to counter disinformation that is aimed at undermining public trust in EU measures against the pandemic, which creates new opportunities for foreign actors to interfere in democratic political processes of the EU and its Member States; considers it necessary for social media platforms to step up their work to counter and curtail such disinformation from spreading further;

42. Calls for closer cooperation in preventing and countering cyberattacks, which endanger the security of information and infrastructure, in these particularly vulnerable times, with the enhanced involvement of and support by the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity;

43. Notes that mobile location data of individuals can only be further processed when made anonymous, in line with the ePrivacy Directive[4] and the General Data Protection Regulation[5]; supports a coordinated EU response in order to use digital solutions that guarantee the privacy of our populations and help mitigate the current crisis;

44. Believes that the pandemic has shown the limits of the EU’s capacity to act decisively and has exposed the lack of the Commission’s executive and budgetary powers; insists, therefore, that the planned Conference on the Future of Europe will be used to lead a reflection on how a more effective and democratic EU can best be governed; is therefore of the opinion that a ‘Conference on the Recovery and Future of Europe’ needs to be convened as early as possible once the COVID-19 pandemic is over and that it must come forward with clear proposals to make the EU more effective and more democratic;

 

The Schengen Area and free movement

45. Calls for more coordination and solidarity among the Member States on internal border restrictions, including clear information on all measures adopted; urges the Commission to play a greater role in ensuring coordination, particularly in the lifting of border control measures; calls on the Member States, where internal border controls have been reintroduced, to allow for the travel of all cross-border workers, people returning home, essential services and freight and to protect their rights and status guaranteed by both EU law and national legislation; underlines that the Member States must follow EU rules; stresses that internal border controls must be exceptional, limited in time, transparent, justified, proportionate, specific to types of transport and non-discriminatory; recalls that internal border control measures must be monitored by both the Commission and the Member States, and lifted as soon as no longer necessary;

46. Emphasises the need to get back to a fully functioning Schengen Area of free movement with no internal border controls as part of a crisis exit strategy; is concerned that current restrictions will create lasting uncertainty and hardship for workers and businesses whose subsistence depends on the free movement of people, goods and services; calls on the Commission to propose, in the longer term, a significant update of the rules on the Schengen Borders Code and the Schengen Evaluation Mechanism;

47. Reiterates that this temporary crisis is not a threat to the continuing and long-term success of the Schengen Area, which represents not only one of the greatest achievements of the EU, but also one of the greatest expansions of personal freedom across the continent;

 

International solidarity and cooperation

48. Underlines that the pandemic knows no borders and has no ideology, and that it requires the cooperation and solidarity of the entire international community; calls for aid to granted to people in the overseas countries and territories and to make sure that they are granted the same EU support as other EU citizens; vigorously supports the call of the UN Secretary General for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world in order to focus on the ‘true fight of our lives’ and better protect the vulnerable against the ravages of the pandemic; urges the UN Security Council to formally express its support for the call made by the Secretary General; joins the call made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for the release of every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners, and those detained for critical, dissenting views across the world; calls for an evaluation of all existing barriers to the fight against the effects and spreading of COVID-19, including an assessment and adaptation of the international sanction regimes, at least temporarily;

49. Highlights that now more than ever EU international solidarity is crucial and it should take the lead in the global response in the fight against COVID-19 together with the Member States in stronger cooperation with international partners setting up preparedness, mitigation and containment measures, especially in the poorest countries and those facing ongoing humanitarian crises; calls for new and increased EU financing in that respect;

50. Emphasises the importance of cooperation with and EU support for all the Western Balkans countries, Eastern partnership countries and our closest neighbours from the south, and developing countries, in particular in Africa; calls for the participation of the Western Balkan countries in EU mechanisms and initiatives to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic and social consequences, and welcomes recent EU decisions taken in this regard; stresses the need to pay special attention to the precarious situation of vulnerable groups such as migrants, refugees and internally displaced people, including persons with disabilities, women, children and the elderly in those countries; stresses the importance of giving adequate visibility to these actions, in order to avoid manipulative disinformation about EU support in the countries concerned;

51. Calls for the EU to support empowerment to strengthen public goods, medical research centres, general health care systems, water, sanitation and hygiene, and basic education to create strong and resilient societies in our neighbourhood, especially in our African partner continent; strongly supports the mobilisation of the Humanitarian Aid Instrument, the Development Cooperation Instrument and the European Development Fund, inter alia, to train, equip, and strengthen the diagnostic capacities of hospital laboratories for infectious diseases and to set up quarantine rooms for suspected cases, or to trace contacts of confirmed cases; calls for debt alleviation for the poorest countries across the world that are the most vulnerable and exposed due to their unique situation such as humanitarian crises and slow economic growth; calls for the EU and its Member States to establish enhanced cooperation with and provide support to Latin American and Caribbean countries in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and alleviating its human and economic consequences; calls for a positive response by the EU, and those Member States that are members of the International Monetary Fund, to the call from Venezuela for an emergency loan to fight the pandemic;

52. Calls for a swift update of the EU Global Strategy in the light of the global impact of the crisis; highlights the so-called ‘corona-diplomacy’; reiterates that the EU must be ready to strategically communicate, fight external disinformation, and adapt continuously to the changing geopolitical landscape, without compromising its core values, and with special regard to human rights, democracy, and the rule of law;

53. Insists that the use of export authorisations must not, under any circumstances, turn into de facto export bans; insists that these measures must be temporary and a thorough assessment be carried out before any extension is granted; calls on the Commission to monitor national export measures closely and if necessary take action against the Member States that have not yet lifted national export bans or are considering taken measures undermining the single market; emphasises the importance of maintaining access to scarce medical products for developing countries; taking into account that the export of personal protective equipment must get to those countries who need it most and not those partners who can afford to pay the highest price; considers that to this end, a global catalogue of essential emergency healthcare products must be agreed within the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the WHO, in order to stop price speculation and facilitate their trade; expresses its deep concern at the warning jointly issued by the WTO, WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization that global restrictive trade measures could lead to food shortages around the world; calls for immediate active measures to be taken so as to minimise disruption to food supply chains, thus preventing the exacerbation of food insecurity or price volatility; calls on all Member States to use all available tools to ensure that effective mechanisms are in place to assess potential investment and acquisitions of critical infrastructure and strategical industrial capacities in the EU, and to take mitigating or blocking measures as needed; calls on the Commission to quickly advance the WTO e-commerce negotiations to guarantee rules for rapidly increasing online trade, especially for goods:

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54. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, together with a specific request to ensure the full involvement of Parliament and its President in the EU’s response to COVID-19.

 

[1] OJ L 94, 28.3.2014, p. 65.

[2] OJ L 158 27.5.2014, p. 1.

[3] OJ L 347 20.12.2013.

[4] OJ L 201, 31.7.2002, p. 37.

[5] OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 1.

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