Procedure : 2020/2616(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B9-0149/2020

Texts tabled :

B9-0149/2020

Debates :

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

Votes :

Texts adopted :


<Date>{14/04/2020}14.4.2020</Date>
<NoDocSe>B9‑0149/2020</NoDocSe>
PDF 209kWORD 71k

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

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


<RepeatBlock-By><Depute>Angel Dzhambazki</Depute>

<Commission>{ECR}on behalf of the ECR Group</Commission>

</RepeatBlock-By>


B9‑0149/2020

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

(2020/2616(RSP))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to the Commission Communication of 13 March 2020 on a Coordinated economic response to the COVID-19 Outbreak,

 having regard to the G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19 held on 3 February 2020,

 having regard to the Communication of the Commission of 19 March 2020 on a Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the current COVID-19 outbreak,

 having regard to Decision (EU) 2020/440 of the European Central Bank of 24 March 2020 on a temporary pandemic emergency purchase programme (ECB/2020/17),

 having regard to the Recommendation of the European Central Bank of 27 March 2020 (ECB/2020/19) on dividend distributions during the COVID-19 pandemic and repealing Recommendation (ECB/2020/1),

 having regard to the European Banking Authority and the Single Supervisory Mechanism statements of 12 March 2020 on actions to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the EU banking sector,

 having regard to the joint statement by the European Competition Network (ECN) of 23 March 2020 on the application of competition law during the Corona crisis,

 having regard to Article 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

 having regard to Decision No 1313/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on a Union Civil Protection Mechanism[1],

 having regard to the Commission Communication on the European Green Deal,

 having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

A. whereas since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the city of Wuhan in China in December 2019, the global pandemic has to date resulted in approximately 1.5 million alleged cases and at least 100 000 deaths;

B. whereas the EU’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic must be in full compliance with Article 168 TFEU, respecting the competences of each Member State to define their own health policy, to organise, deliver and manage health services, and to allocate resources to their health systems;

C. whereas the COVID-19 outbreak is not only a serious public health emergency, but also a major negative shock to the global and EU economies as a result of a combination of both supply and demand effects; whereas a determined economic response by Member States and EU institutions is crucial to mitigating these negative economic repercussions;

D. whereas the number of people losing their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic is rising rapidly and could well exceed 25 million according to International Labour Organization (ILO) predictions;

E. whereas many sectors of the economy and many of our citizens are facing massive job losses, a decrease in working time and loss of income, while certain sectors are facing major challenges in ensuring continuity and the safety of their workers; whereas applications for unemployment benefits are now much higher than expected;

F. whereas businesses of all kinds may face a severe lack of liquidity, with SMEs and start-ups particularly at risk; whereas liquidity shortages can seriously affect the economic situation of many healthy undertakings and their employees in the short and medium term, while having also longer-lasting effects by endangering their continued survival;

G. whereas the already extremely severe economic downturn risks being further amplified if lenders pull back from lending to businesses and households; whereas banks and other financial intermediaries therefore have a key role to play in dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak by maintaining the flow of credit to the economy;

H. whereas several Member States are considering or have already announced support measures for citizens or companies; whereas some support measures may entail State aid within the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU;

I. whereas the fundamental objective of competition rules is to ensure a level playing field between companies, and also remains relevant in a period when companies and the economy as a whole are suffering from crisis conditions; whereas different EU/EEA competition instruments have mechanisms to take into account market and economic developments where appropriate and necessary;

J. whereas it is crucial to support working parents who keep health systems and other important services functioning;

K. whereas overall women make up almost 70 % of the health care workforce, exposing them to a greater risk of infection; whereas women dominate employment in the care sector, and also perform most unpaid work in the home; whereas all care workers have an exceptionally important role to play during the crisis;

L. whereas families are playing a fundamental role, once again providing essential care to their members, including the elderly, children and the sick;

M. whereas the elderly are particularly at risk from COVID-19, especially those living alone or without family; whereas the elderly are suffering the highest mortality rate and a more severe form of the disease; whereas the elderly are now even more isolated, deprived of the visits and care of their families due to social distancing restrictions;

N. whereas the role of teleworking and remote work is growing, in particular during COVID-19 pandemic; whereas the role of telemedicine and telecare is growing; whereas digital exclusion has become a matter of urgency during COVID-19 pandemic; whereas many EU citizens do not have digital skills or access to basic services such as education, healthcare provided online during national lockdowns;

O. whereas EU agriculture is of vital importance for food safety and security in the European Union;

P. whereas the chief scientist of the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has concluded, based on experiences from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses, that there is currently no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 through food;

Q. whereas uncontrolled migration from third countries around the world could pose a real security and health risk; whereas ensuring public health should be the overriding guiding principle;

R. whereas several Member States have voluntarily committed to relocate 1 600 unaccompanied minors from the Greek islands, and the Commission is attempting to persuade more governments to take in unaccompanied children from the Greek islands;

S. whereas relocation and family reunification schemes would imply cross-border transfers of asylum seekers and their families, though currently travel to the EU and internal free circulation is limited, if not forbidden;

T. whereas new arrivals of migrants could severely undermine the capacity of Member States’ health systems, which are already under extreme pressure; whereas new arrivals would create a logistical burden for coastal Member States, which are now focused on the management of the health emergency; whereas several NGOs operating in the Mediterranean are allegedly putting together a crew to restart their rescue operations;

U. whereas the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted operational shortcomings in the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) and its capacity reserve under rescEU, which have hindered the EU’s response to Italy’s request for protective medical equipment in late February;

V. whereas some Member States, regions and private entities have already implemented or are designing applications in a fragmentary manner to tackle the COVID-19 crisis, based on data from telecommunication operators or global satellite navigation systems (GNSS);

The COVID-19 pandemic

1. Expresses its solidarity with all those affected by COVID-19, and its deepest condolences to all those who have lost loved ones as a consequence of the pandemic;

2. Expresses its highest appreciation and respect for all the services working tirelessly to fight the COVID-19 crisis, in particular the work of medical and care professionals, law enforcement officers, and members of the armed services, whose dedication and sense of responsibility ensures the safe functioning of our societies;

3. Offers its support and gratitude to all those working in other activities essential to the core operation of our economies, such as those working in logistics and in the distribution of food and other key supplies;

4. Expresses its gratitude towards families, who are playing an essential role ensuring a safe and secure environment so necessary in these uncertain times;

5. Expresses its support for and gratitude to all those across the European Union who have conscientiously followed the advice of their governments in order to relieve the pressure on health services and save lives;

The immediate EU response

6. Welcomes the measures taken in the early days of the crisis by some Member States at the national, regional and local levels, such as loan guarantees, tax and mortgage breaks, and other social relief programmes;

7. Welcomes the recent statements by the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the Single Resolution Board, the European Banking Authority, the European Securities Markets Authority other relevant authorities in EU Member States on the application of regulatory and accounting requirements for financial institutions in the current exceptional circumstances;

8. Expresses its support and gratitude for the ever increasing examples - contrary to the regrettably inadequate initial response - of solidarity with Member States struck hard by the pandemic, such as the deployment of medical teams, transport of patients for treatment or supply of protective equipment, disinfectant and ventilators; calls on the Commission and the Member States to step up their actions in this regard;

9. Underlines that the Commission and the Member States must act decisively and in a coordinated manner to combat the spread of COVID-19 and support the regions and countries hit hardest by the pandemic; calls on the Commission to assess the epidemic preparedness of each Member State, and preserve solidarity across the EU-27 in full compliance with Article 168 TFEU;

10. Believes the availability of COVID-19 diagnostic tests is of fundamental importance, together with isolation and tracking, for reducing the rate of transmission; regrets that there are shortages of tests, personal protective equipment, disinfectants and other medical supplies; welcomes, in this regard, the Commission’s recent joint procurement guidelines and the decision to enable strategic rescEU medical stockpiling and cross-border health assistance;

11. Notes that several Member States have introduced a recommendation to use face masks in public for all its citizens, which appears to be an effective pre-emptive measure in containing the spread of the virus, while other Member States are planning to make it mandatory;

12. Notes the initial failure of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) and the restrictions on exports of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and ventilators imposed by some Member States in the most difficult days for the countries most affected by the spread of COVID-19; recalls that not all of the restrictions introduced are unjustified; calls on the Commission to ensure the correct functioning of the UCPM and the Health Safety Committee to enable an increase in centralised purchases of equipment and materials, to ensure rapid acquisition and joint distribution starting with areas in greatest need, to provide effective coordination and clear actionable rules for the allocation of these resources, and to guarantee a more effective and timely exchange of information;

13. Calls on the Commission to fast-track procedures under the Joint Procurement for the immediate provision of a suitable number of PPE masks, ventilators, testing kits and medical devices to be sent to the most affected Member States;

14. Calls on the Member States and the Commission to develop a single web portal where EU citizens can find all relevant information related to the COVID-19 pandemic in all the official languages;

15. Underlines that transparency and information are of vital importance during a health crisis of this type, where initial cases are often undiagnosed and the number of infections undetermined, in order to stem the spread of the virus, regardless of the health and containment measures that are subsequently taken;

16. Regrets latest unfounded political attacks against some national governments, which are legitimately putting in place emergency measures for stopping the epidemic; notes that Member States’ governments shall not use the declaring a state of emergency as a tool to prevent parliament scrutiny;

17. Welcomes practical guidance from the Commission to ensure the free movement of critical workers; stresses, however, that further effort is needed to ensure that mobile workers within the EU, in particular those in critical occupations to fight the coronavirus pandemic, can reach their workplace and receive adequate social protection;

18. Stresses the urgent need for the Member States and the Commission to identify the best practices which can be extended to all Member States for allowing workers to perform their occupations without undue hindrance, and resume the free movement within EU as soon as possible;

19. Welcomes the Commission Communication of 16 March on a Temporary Restriction on Non-Essential Travel to the EU, since globalisation and international movements of people create conditions which facilitate the spread of the virus across borders, as well as its subsequent Communication of 8 April; points out that the temporary travel restriction should apply to all non-essential travel from third countries to the EU+ area, and could be prolonged depending on further developments; underlines that the travel restriction must exempt EU citizens returning to the EU;

20. Calls on the Commission to set up a task force charged with issuing guidelines on the preparation of statistics by the Member States, collecting and analysing the data, and issuing further recommendations on a country by country basis;

21. Points out that data protection rules should be interpreted in a flexible manner to allow for measures to be taken in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic for the limited period of the emergency; condemns any unjustified activities or requirements that could cripple the exchange of data across the Union, and the negative impact such restrictions have on the common response of the Union to the pandemic;

22. Welcomes the temporary suspension of the airport slot requirements, which oblige airlines to use at least 80 % of their take-off and landing slots in order to keep them the following year; notes that the waiver aims to help air carriers cope with the drastic drop in air traffic caused by the coronavirus crisis, thus safeguarding their rights and investments;

The internal market, reducing the legislative burden, cross-border trade

23. Underlines that the Single Market represents the European Union’s biggest achievement and asset, and should not be put at risk as a result of Europe’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak; calls on the Commission to catalogue all justified interim measures imposed as initial responses to the outbreak, and urges national governments, and the Commission where necessary, to swiftly act to remove them when no longer justified;

24. Calls on the Commission and Member States to postpone the application of new requirements introduced by legislation due to enter into force in the next three months, so that businesses are not adversely affected by regulatory changes during this challenging period, and are given time to ensure compliance when operating normally; welcomes the Commission’s decision to extend a relaxation of laws around State aid to companies developing medicines, medical devices, protective equipment, and disinfectants, as well as testing facilities and related infrastructure to fight the COVID-19 pandemic; applauds the Commission’s decision to propose a one year moratorium to the transition period in the Medical Devices Regulation, which could have had a negative impact on the availability of medical supplies, and supports fast-track approval of the accompanying legislation by the co-legislators;

25. Welcomes Commission’s Guidelines of 16 March 2020 for border management measures to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and essential services; underlines that in an extremely critical situation, a Member State can identify a need to reintroduce border controls as a reaction to the risk posed by a contagious disease;

26. Calls on the Commission to seek a coordinated approach and utilise data provided by the Member States to ensure unhindered cross-border operations of critical infrastructure, including essential services, and the provision of energy, food, pharmaceutical and medical supplies;

27. Welcomes the Commission’s Guidelines of 23 March 2020 on ‘green lanes’ to Member States to ensure a speedy and continuous flow of goods across the EU, and to avoid bottlenecks at key internal border crossing points; encourages Member States that are carrying out internal border controls to guarantee the integrity of the single market, and in particular of supply chains, and not to engage in any unfair practices; welcomes the Commission’s publication of new guidelines on EU emergency assistance for cross-border healthcare, and its decision to temporarily waive customs duties on the import of medical devices and protective equipment from third countries;

28. Stresses the need to ease administrative burdens for cross-border distribution of goods through digital platforms, in support of policies aimed at ensuring social distancing while allowing citizens to obtain the products they need;

29. Calls on the Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) to ensure the smooth operation and distribution of Europe’s medicine supply system in the event that the COVID-19 pandemic persists, with special help and support for sectors most exposed to risks;

30. Underlines the need to work towards the removal of all national bans on the export of medicine and medical equipment to other EU Member States; stresses the importance of ensuring the free flow of medical professionals and medical supplies; further underlines the importance of a harmonised and coordinated approach among Member States to ensure the flow of essential services and goods through the ‘green lanes’; stresses the urgent need for cooperation with international partners to maintain vital supply chains and the functioning of crucial sectors; stresses the importance of maintaining multilateral dialogue with the G20 and major manufacturing countries, and emphasises the importance of securing international green lanes to avoid disruption to the supply of essential medicines and medical supplies; emphasises, further, the need for a unified approach by customs authorities to facilitating the flow of the essential products; urges the Commission to expand the list of products related to the fight against COVID-19 upon which custom duties are waived, in order to build fully-fledged response capabilities within the EU;

31. Calls on the Member States to help secure necessary protective equipment and other tools required by postal operators in Europe with a view to adequately protecting these essential workers and fully re-establishing parcel deliveries; notes that limitations on postal services further decrease the capacity of European SMEs to cope with the current crisis, and adversely affects the e-commerce sector more broadly;

32. Underlines the need to strengthen efforts aimed at rapid detection and removal of unsafe products, especially counterfeit medical equipment and PPE (personal protective equipment);

33. Urges the Commission to take steps to ensure that extensions to the validity of the inspections on vehicles used for international freight that are due to expire will be recognised by all Member States;

Budgetary and financial support

34. Believes that Member States should have full budgetary freedom to take all measures necessary to fight the pandemic, to keep their social and economic frameworks as intact as possible, and to prepare efficiently for the subsequent recovery; welcomes, in this regard, the maximum use of the flexibility allowed by the EU fiscal and State aid rules, as amended by the Six Pack and Two Pack;

35. Strongly supports solidarity between Member States affected by the COVID-19 outbreak; believes available financial means should be mobilised in the 2020 budget as much as possible to tackle the immediate challenges; welcomes Commission initiatives that allow for flexible use of EU funds; expects, in this regard, the Commission to deliver the necessary support to the Member States in order to ensure a flexible and effective implementation of these initiatives; calls specifically for flexibility on the expenditure of resources from the European Social Fund by Member States; calls, in this regard, for the urgent mobilisation of funds on the basis of Article 122 TFEU on financial assistance to Member States in severe difficulties due to exceptional occurrences beyond their control; supports, furthermore, the establishment of a temporary and targeted Solidarity Fund enabling Member States to provide coordinated disaster support to countries affected;

36. Believes it is necessary to guarantee greater flexibility for Member States and regions to allow them to intervene quickly and effectively on the basis of expedited and simplified administrative procedures in order to:

 ensure transfers between the various cohesion policy funds to support health measures, social measures, businesses and economic and productive sectors, to release substantial resources,

 boost strategic concentration on priorities to overcome the serious crisis resulting from the pandemic,

 simplify the procedural stages linked to implementation, certification and audit - in particular by postponing the deadline for the submission of annual implementation reports;

37. Urges the Commission to increase the European co-financing rate, and reach 100 % for health care-related funding under the Investment for Growth and Jobs goal between the ERDF, the ESF, and the Cohesion Fund, and between categories of regions;

38. Calls on the Commission to postpone the deadlines for calls for proposals in the direct funds categories, grants and contracts unless they relate to the COVID-19 crisis;

39. Notes that the mobilisation of the European Globalization Adjustment Fund (EGF) is one of several instruments available to support the self-employed and workers who have been laid off and as a result of the pandemic crisis;

40. Stresses that all companies affected by the COVID-19 crisis, including small and medium enterprises, should receive adequate support, and that emergency measures should be taken to help the entire workforce, including those with precarious jobs as well as the self-employed;

41. Welcomes the financial support for European SMEs under the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative and the European Fund for Strategic Investments; urges the Commission and the Member States to be as flexible as possible in providing support for SMEs; insists that the situation must be closely monitored in weeks ahead, and if necessary, support measures should be further adjusted;

42. Underlines that the cultural and creative sectors (CCS) in Member States have been hit especially hard by the fallout from coronavirus, due to the closure of cinemas, theatres and music venues, as well as the sudden slump in ticket sales; highlights that as these sectors depend on large numbers of freelance and self-employed workers, many of whom were struggling well before the outbreak, the effects are particularly dire for creative professionals whose income streams have been unexpectedly reduced to zero, and now have little or no support from the social system; calls on the Commission to immediately allocate resources for addressing the financial hardship of creative professionals and related sectors; welcomes the initiatives taken by a number of Member States to support their cultural and creative sectors;

43. Calls on the Commission to establish a new EU instrument, backed by the EU budget and other instruments identified by the EIB, to finance loan guarantees for European businesses and support workers, and provide structural measures to support the relaunch of the European cultural, creative and tourism sectors at the end of the pandemic emergency;

44. Welcomes the measures taken by the Commission and the EIB to support healthcare systems, protect jobs, and inject liquidity into the European economy; welcomes the rapid launch by the EIB and Commission of a support action plan mobilising EUR 40 billion that was deployed immediately to support access to finance for affected SMEs and mid-cap companies; urges the Member States to complement this plan with a EUR 25 billion pan-European guarantee fund to extend support to the real economy to EUR 240 billion in total;

45. Highlights the importance of giving maximum leeway to banks and other lending institutions, including private fintech companies, to support the purchasing power of families and individuals, and to offer bridge financing to the corporate sector, in particular for SMEs and start-ups; recommends, however, also keeping in mind that mounting problems in the corporate debt market and related derivatives markets risk placing substantial burdens on the balance sheet positions of financial institutions;

46. Welcomes the measures taken by the European Central Bank (ECB), European Banking Authority (EBA) and other relevant authorities in the EU Member States to ensure that supervised banks can continue to fulfil their role in funding the real economy; highlights in this respect in particular that banks are temporarily allowed to operate below the level of capital defined by the Pillar 2 Guidance, the capital conservation buffer and the liquidity coverage ratio; calls on national macroprudential authorities which have not yet done so to further enhance these temporary measures by an appropriate relaxation of the countercyclical capital buffer;

47. Welcomes the ECB’s actions to instil a capital conservation mentality in financial institutions by putting curbs on pay-outs such as by temporarily suspending dividend payments and share buybacks, and requesting maximum moderation in variable remuneration;

48. Welcomes the adoption of the Temporary Framework for State aid measures to enable Member States to use the full flexibility provided for under Article 107(3)(b) TFEU to support the economy in the context of the coronavirus outbreak; emphasises at the same time the importance of establishing a clear roadmap and criteria to allow this exceptional regime to be concluded as soon as possible;

49. Understands that the extraordinary situation may trigger the need for companies to cooperate to ensure the supply and fair distribution of scarce products to all consumers; welcomes the commitment made by the European Competition Network that competition authorities will not actively intervene against necessary and temporary measures put in place in order to avoid supply shortages; highlights at the same time the importance of ensuring that products considered essential to protect the health of consumers in the current situation, such as personal protective equipment and medicines, remain available at competitive prices; calls on the Commission and the national competition authorities to take immediate action against companies that take advantage of the current situation by cartelising or abusing their dominant position; points out, in this regard, that existing rules allow manufacturers to set maximum prices for their products, which could limit unjustified price increases at the distribution level;

Food security

50. Highlights the crucial importance of EU farmers and growers for food security, and expresses its deep concern about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the EU agriculture sector; calls on the Commission to safeguard food supplies in the internal market, and to ensure free movement, including for the inputs and workers necessary for food production; calls for financial support, certainty and stability to be provided to the agriculture sector by using available margins in the agricultural budget as well as margins in other sections of the budget, and underlines the need for an increased agriculture budget in the next programming period;

51. Calls on the Commission to allow Member States to pay out direct payments to farmers earlier in order to make available urgently needed liquidity to farmers, and to allow further flexibility and derogations for deadlines, conditions, on-the-spot checks and inspections;

52. Calls on the Commission to swiftly implement temporary market measures including exceptional measures provided for in Articles 219 to 222 of the Common Market Organisation Regulation; calls for swift measures to be adopted for inter alia the flower and plant, potato, dairy, beef and veal, poultry, sheep, and fruit and vegetables sectors, for close monitoring of other sectors, and for appropriate action to be taken to address further developments; urges the Commission to adopt a flexible approach to the list of products under the various market measures, and include support for private storage; instructs the Commission to find the necessary resources outside the agriculture budget and not to use the agriculture crisis reserve, as this would lower the amount of direct payments in certain Member States;

53. Calls on the Commission to monitor potential unfair practices that might affect farmers as a consequence a COVID 19, in particular producers of perishable products;

54. Urges the Commission to swiftly approve any proposal by a Member State to redeploy unspent resources from its rural development programme to the immediate use of its farmers and growers in order to cope with the urgent challenges, and to enable rapid changes to rural development programmes; asks the Commission to ensure that support may also be granted for working capital loans, and to enable Member States to pay out rural development programme payments swiftly;

55. Urges the Commission to ensure, in good time and in collaboration with the Member States, that illegitimate requests to exhibit ‘virus free’ certifications for certain agri-food products are not repeated, in line with the scientific evidence that has established that the virus does not spread through food; invites the Commission to work on a specific action plan, with the assistance of national authorities, on how to guarantee mutual recognition of food quality at inspections at internal borders in the framework of the COVID-19 emergency;

56. Welcomes the Commission’s initiative to suspend ex ante checks on applications for CAP contributions, and to provide only ex post checks to verify the legitimacy of requests;

57. Welcomes the Commission’s announcement that it would significantly increase the advance share of CAP 2020 funds in order to allow farms to have liquidity available in a short timeframe;

Family support

58. Calls for family-friendly policies and practices, by providing child care options to working parents in essential services; underlines the importance of helping working parents find child-care solutions in situations where one parent is a healthcare professional, caregiver, or member of the armed forces or the police; points out that the other parent should be entitled to work from home or to work part-time to take care of the children at the least; believes that direct financial support should be offered to workers who have to take leave to care for children (or support should be given to employers who offer paid leave for this), and telework and flexible work requirements should be adapted to enable workers to combine paid and unpaid work;

59. Recognises the role parents are playing in ensuring the continuation of their children’s education and in creating a rich environment to encourage childhood development;

60. Emphasises the importance of Member States protecting families with children with special needs and the difficulty of dealing with social distancing restrictions, requiring additional measures;

61. Emphasises that the elderly are being deprived of the care and supervision of their families and caregivers, which could create a situation of neglect in both their private homes and in nursing homes;

62. Notes that the COVID-19 epidemic has created uncertainty in daily life, with prolonged isolation in quarantine sometimes leading to loneliness, anxiety and depression; insists that Member States fully acknowledge the mental health implications of the crisis, and recommends the establishment of an EU-wide mental health campaign, offering advice on how to maintain mental well-being; calls for special protection for high-risk groups, especially the elderly, to combat loneliness and isolation;

63. Urges the Commission to propose a European Common Health Protocol, in full accordance with Article 168 of the TFEU, to ensure a coherent EU-wide response, including detailed guidelines on clinical diagnosis and, more generally, on patient care and management; calls on the Commission to devise a standardised therapeutic treatment algorithm based on the Member States’ own models of previous preventive actions; calls on the Commission and Member States to develop a tailored EU register on the protection of medical staff to facilitate the sharing of ideas, information and best practices;

Medical cooperation

64. Welcomes the responses by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the Health Security Committee (HSC), and calls for continued and increased cooperation, based on sound scientific evidence, both at EU and international level, to coordinate the adoption of common health protocols, capable of ensuring that swab tests are carried out in a widespread and adequate manner in each Member State;

65. Regrets that in the period from 2013 to 2018, the number of full-time employees in the ECDC was reduced by 20, which negatively affected its workload capacity; calls on the Commission to restore posts through existing budgetary procedures to allow the agency to operate properly and to continue to do so after the current crisis; highlights the need for additional competences for the ECDC, enabling it to carry out continuous and thorough monitoring of medical observation, surveillance and intelligence data; calls, furthermore, for the ECDC to be included in the work of the Commission’s COVID-19 advisory panel and for it to take appropriate response measures that Member States can implement swiftly and effectively;

66. Believes the competences of the European Medical Agency (EMA) should also be extended, allowing the agency to conduct phase I and phase II clinical trials, and address shortages of critical medicines in intensive care units resulting from heightened demand, particularly in the event of a major public health emergency, such as a pandemic;

67. Calls for a fast-track approval process and conditional marketing authorisation for promising therapeutic and experimental treatments or repurposed medicines to combat COVID-19; praises scientists publishing free of charge the results of their research aimed at finding a treatment for COVID-19;

68. Calls on the Commission to develop a common Memorandum of Understanding between the ECDC, the EMA, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in order to further develop information exchange, cooperation and mutual understanding between the agencies, and, where appropriate, joint projects, when responding to major public health emergencies;

69. Recalls that the European Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Galileo offers the most accurate geolocation data and that Copernicus provides various earth observation services, including Copernicus Emergency Management Service which is also fit for dealing with similar crises; encourages all authorities to widely exploit the European space programmes in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic; calls on the European GNSS Agency and the Commission to increase their awareness-raising and support activities;

70. Welcomes the recommendation by the European Data Protection Supervisor concerning the development of a single EU application with strong data protection built in as the most effective solution to the coronavirus outbreak; acknowledges that the single application might help to avoid lockdowns and allow free cross-border and cross-regional movement during COVID-19 or any other possible pandemics; believes, however, that the development and implementation of an EU-wide application would require a longer period for the definition of its functionalities, testing and implementation, and the strong involvement of national and regional authorities; suggests that the single EU application should be based on Galileo and should be included in the development of early warning programmes for pandemics, to track, locate and conceptualise the spread of infections, similar to that provided by the proprietary software-as-a-service BlueDot; calls on the European GNSS Agency and the Commission to launch a pilot project for the EU application, and to provide financial and technical support for interim solutions, including the sharing of best practices or, where available, open source codes of successful local solutions;

71. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to establish a digital exchange platform for health professionals to gather epidemiological data, science-based practice recommendations and alerts on risks or obstacles encountered, such as shortages of medicines and of protective equipment;

72. Highlights the necessity of establishing a public-private network of excellence of reference hospitals in major public health emergencies engaged in the study and treatment of airborne, vector-borne and contact-transmitted infectious diseases;

73. Calls on the Commission to assist the Member States in devising an effective exit strategy from existing quarantine measures, supported by large-scale testing, to be implemented in a joint, coordinated and sequenced manner;

74. Regrets that in many cases the elderly have been discriminated against as a result of their age in obtaining access to vital medical support and treatments; notes, moreover, that this discrimination has been expressed in medical protocols and accepted as an action guide; calls on the Council, within the limits of the powers conferred by the Treaties upon the Union and pursuant to Article 19 of the TFEU, to take appropriate action to combat any discrimination in this regard;

The recovery phase

75. Believes that in planning the recovery phase, the EU must:

(1) reconsider its legislative and policy priorities to concentrate on initiatives that will aid the economy, while jettisoning any that will distract from or undermine the essential task of recovery, specifically postponing the Green Deal until the Member States return to pre-crisis production and employment levels, and giving selected European industries more time to comply with existing sectoral legislation, particularly with regard to obligations under the relevant acts, which are supposed to be met in the coming months;

(2) revise the proposed multiannual financial framework (MFF) to make economic recovery its overriding ambition;

(3) rebuild the internal market and take other measures to support businesses, especially SMEs and the self-employed, to stimulate the European economy;

(4) reinforce external borders to reduce the risk of a second-wave crisis;

(5) reinvigorate international trade;

(6) consider the implications of the COVID-19 crisis for external relations;

Legislative and policy priorities

76. Calls on the Commission to revise its political priorities to reflect the need to restore growth and rebuild the European economy in keeping with the new reality; considers that the Commission should therefore radically scale back its pre-crisis regulatory ambitions, re-examine its political priorities and put pragmatism first; emphasises that the EU’s response to the COVID-19 crisis should not serve as a justification to intensify work on existing policy priorities or further European integration; stresses that ambitious programmes may need to be scaled back and that economic costs imposed on companies and regions should be minimised or removed where they cannot be covered by transition funding; emphasises that instead of imposing sweeping new legislation under initiatives such as the Green Deal, the priority must be to undertake budgetary and legislative reforms that help rebuild the European economy, enabling entrepreneurs, SMEs, the self-employed, and larger businesses to rebuild, re-establish sales markets, re-hire staff and invest in future growth;

77. Calls specifically on the Commission to postpone the European Green Deal until the end of the crisis, with a concomitant amendment of the MFF 2021-2027, mobilising the resources for supporting counter-cyclical measures and making them available to the territories and productive sectors most affected by the crisis; calls on the Commission to suspend all actions under the Green Deal, in order to reduce the regulatory burden and enable the Member States to take all necessary monetary and fiscal measures in support of businesses and industry during this pandemic and the subsequent global economic recession;

78. Stresses that European industries should be given more time to comply with sectoral legislation since no production, development, testing or other works are taking place for the time being; stresses further that regulatory pressure should be reduced in particular regarding legislation scheduled to be implemented in the next few months, such as the ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans Package’ or the CO2 emission performance standards for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles; believes that any new legislative initiative should be postponed if it places an additional burden on industries, thereby slowing down their economic recovery;

79. Believes that the recovery plan should include measures protecting the poorest and most vulnerable households from the effects of a post-COVID-19 recession, inter alia by alleviating the impact of the EU Emissions Trading System on their costs of living; further believes that the recovery plan at EU level should, in particular, support national programmes to that end;

80. Calls on the Commission to amend the proposals for the new legislative framework, in order to ensure greater flexibility and responsiveness in the event of potential similar crises, with particular reference to structural measures for health systems, businesses and to ensure the employment and protection of the weakest;

81. Warns against introducing new EU legislation based on national protectionist measures, and which would additionally complicate operations in the internal market; stresses that such measures could undermine recovery efforts undertaken by the Member States and the Commission;

82. Calls on the Commission to postpone new initiatives, including regulatory proposals with an impact on the agriculture sector, such as the Farm-to-Fork Strategy and the EU Biodiversity Strategy in addition to the Green Deal, so as to provide the urgently needed stability that farmers require to overcome the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic;

83. Believes that the severity, extent, and unpredictability of the pandemic has clear implications for the Commission’s ability to conduct objective and reliable socio-economic impact assessments, and therefore requests that the Commission indefinitely suspend its work on a 2030 Climate Target Plan;

84. Learning from the experience of dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, calls on the Commission to step up its efforts to combat digital exclusion and to improve digital skills; calls on the Commission and the Member States to include teleworking and remote work in all their strategies, as an important factor facilitating work-life balance; calls on the Member States to increase the capacity of telemedicine and telecare services;

85. Welcomes the Commission’s guidelines designed to keep critical workers moving across the EU’s internal borders, including food industry employees and seasonal farm labourers;

86. Proposes a reconsideration of the approach in the framework of Projects of Common Interest (PCIs) to focus investments on improving the internet network communication across the EU to ensure better connectivity and speed around Europe, in order to enable increased efficiency in remote working in a variety of sectors and to encourage employers to promote this type of working, which might contribute to increased cost-savings by employers, increased productivity by employees, better work-life balance and employee satisfaction leading to improved labour output and to an important improvement of the environment;

The MFF and financial support for the recovery

87. Urges the Commission to urgently update its MFF proposals for 2021-2027 period and to propose a contingency simplification plan that will enter into force on 1 January 2021; believes that this plan should address the immediate consequences of the COVID-19 emergency, in line with the steps taken in the 2020 budget in terms of reorientation and reinforcements of existing instruments;

88. Welcomes the Commission’s announcement that it will update its draft proposal from May 2018 for the 2021-2027 MFF to address the fallout of the current health crisis in the long term; emphasises that the priority should be to rebalance and reprioritise the MFF, with increased flexibility in relation to expenditure, to make it one of the tools of economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis available to Member States; believes that the Commission should consider the potential of all programmes, with additional resources, to provide an efficient and effective additional contribution to economic recovery and public health and crisis management, while safeguarding their initial purposes; considers that the difference between the overall levels of commitment and payment appropriations should be as limited as possible; considers the rigidity of the European Union’s budget to be detrimental to its capacity to properly respond to crises; believes, therefore, that the flexibility provisions in the upcoming MFF should be substantially increased, within programmes (simplified implementation rules, increased transfer between funds), as well as for thematic and non-thematic instruments;

89. Suggests exploring innovative ideas to reduce the risk that legacy and collateral effects will make economic recovery unnecessarily difficult, including a new type of temporary financial solidarity instrument or a specific Recovery Fund, a fund that should be offered to all Member States, targeted and commensurate with the extraordinary costs of the current crisis, aimed at supporting the EU production system and the social protection of labour and at reinforcing health systems;

90. Acknowledges the European Central Bank’s EUR 750 billion Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme and parallel schemes established by other national central banks in the EU; understands that extraordinary times require extraordinary monetary measures; further acknowledges that the ECB has two main roles in this particular crisis, managing the overall inflation target in the euro area and acting as a lender of last resort in this critical situation in which minimising the cost of recovery for Member States is of the utmost importance;

91. Considers the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) an inadequate tool to respond to symmetrical shocks and to match the scale of this crisis; requests, therefore, the termination of the ESM and that the resources individual member States have contributed to the mechanism, that are not being used to deal with the severe economic crisis, be returned to them;

92. Believes that the Member States must take measures to protect workers in Europe; considers, in this context, the new proposal from the Commission for an instrument for temporary support to mitigate unemployment risks in an emergency (SURE) to be a step in the right direction, but nevertheless insufficient to support the efforts of national governments facing the employment crisis caused by COVID-19;

93. Welcomes the EIB’s initiative to create a fund of EUR 25 billion, which could support financing for companies, with a focus on SMEs; encourages the EIB and the Member States to simplify the procedures to access this fund;

94. Invites the Commission, in relation to the Non-performing Loans (NPLs) Backstop Regulation, to amend the NPL calendar provisioning, in order to shift the provisioning curves forward for a period of at least 18 months; calls on the Commission to extend the preferential treatment that is currently reserved for non-performing exposures guaranteed or insured by an official export credit agency to those to which a public guarantee has been granted;

Rebuilding the internal market, strengthening industrial policy and support for businesses

95. Highlights that the fastest return to the growth path in Europe could be achieved through the removal of the internal market barriers; calls on the Commission to focus its attention on the areas of the economy with the strongest potential for growth; notes that the services sector has, according to Parliament’s own research, the highest potential to drive growth in the European Union; calls, therefore, on the Commission to tackle the national barriers preventing the full realisation of the internal market for services;

96. Strongly encourages the Commission to accelerate the development of e-government capabilities in Member States, including the Digital Single Gateway; recognises that, as Europe rebuilds from the pandemic, citizens and business will rely more and more on modern public administration, and that introducing innovative solutions based on tools such as e-signatures or greater sharing of public data could simplify the return to full capacity and normality for citizens and businesses across Europe;

97. Calls on the Commission to extend the measures set out in Commission communication on the use of the public procurement framework in the emergency situation related to the COVID-19 crisis (2020/C 108 I/01), to include public investment beyond that which is strictly health-related, in order to support the acquisition of tangible and intangible assets, to accelerate the award of public works, services and supplies by reducing time, and measures to reduce restraint, in order to strengthen, in a countercyclical way, the economic, productive and strategic sectors of the different Member States;

98. Urges the Commission to support SMEs through a clear reduction of red tape for the duration of the pandemic and the recovery phase, including through COVID-19 screening of EU legislation and suspending the implementation of all new EU legislation with an impact on businesses, in particular legislation related to the Green Deal;

99. Takes note of the decision by the European Banking Authority (EBA) to postpone EU-wide stress tests to 2021, to allow banks to prioritise operational continuity, including support for their customers; further notes that, for 2020, the EBA will carry out an additional EU-wide transparency exercise in order to provide updated information on banks’ exposures and asset quality to market participants;

100. Believes that a revised European industrial strategy should focus in particular on the repatriation of core industries to Europe, and should aim to ensure European strategic autonomy of key sectors; believes that the Member States should be encouraged to safeguard, by the most appropriate means available, critical infrastructures, industrial activities, and strategic R&D activities from relocation or from hostile takeovers from outside the Union; calls for the establishment of a European mechanism providing fair access to financial resources for enterprises across Europe as part of an industry recovery plan;

101. Stresses that the medical and pharmaceutical sector is crucial to combating the coronavirus; notes that this sector is particularly dependent on properly functioning global supply chains and faces challenges as a result of rising protectionism and uncoordinated responses; calls for global adherence to the WTO’s Pharmaceutical Zero-for-Zero Initiative; believes it is essential for the EU to recapture technological sovereignty in the development and production of essential medicines, medical devices and personal protective equipment; underlines the need to attract new investment into the medical sector in the EU, to develop an EU strategy for reshoring the production of strategic medical gear, or alternatively, rapidly find ways of diversifying its import sources in order to guarantee smooth trade flows and help to contribute to creating strategic reserves and rolling stocks of medical equipment;

102. Recognises short-term threats originating from a disruption of supply chains; asks for the Commission’s programme to be updated in order to encourage part of the critical production capacity to be brought back to Europe;

103. Recognises the vital role played by innovative sectors in mitigating the impacts of the pandemic, for example the manufacturing capacities offered by 3D printing technology; calls on the Commission to support the expansion of European capabilities in these new sectors able to contribute to European industrial capacities; supports joint procurements for medical equipment and other essential products, thereby simplifying procedures, offering savings and avoiding unnecessary competition between Member States to obtain equipment in times of need;

104. Welcomes the efforts undertaken by some Member States to supplement traditional public procurement with ‘hackathons’ and the use of GovTech platforms; believes that these modern methods offer robust development and delivery of much-needed digital tools; considers that the Commission’s Digital Strategy should be updated to introduce a European-level GovTech platform aiding Member States’ joint efforts in the area of digital procurement;

105. Stresses the particularly acute and worsening financial situation of the media sector, especially news media, across the EU due to the abrupt reduction in or complete loss of advertising revenue, which may lead to failures of news organisations across the Member States; highlights the especially dire position of freelance journalists and local and regional news media, as well as those operating in small markets; points out that free, independent and adequately funded media is instrumental for a functioning democracy and for ensuring that citizens are properly informed throughout this crisis;

106. Expresses concern that the Commission decided to publish two communications on 10 March 2020, entitled ‘A new Industrial Strategy for a globally competitive, green and digital Europe’ and ‘An SME Strategy for a sustainable and digital Europe’; is of opinion that both documents are obsolete and do not reflect the current state of affairs, therefore demands their urgent revision, targeting the most affected regions and industries;

107. Notes that in several Member States the prioritisation of actions to deal with the pandemic have led to the postponement of activities in other fields, including those related to climate policy; draws attention to the fact that the crisis is likely to delay the five outstanding National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) which EU countries were supposed to submit to the Commission; reiterates, therefore, the need for the Commission to re-examine its political priorities and to consider scaling back its pre-crisis regulatory ambitions, including its climate targets;

108. Notes with concern that the energy sector has already felt the impact of the coronavirus crisis; draws attention to the fact that the Renewable Energy Sources (RES) sector is highly dependent on the import of components, particularly from China, and that problems in the supply of components have already negatively affected the wind and solar sectors; stresses that the sustainability and development of other key energy sectors could also be negatively affected by financial liquidity risks due to the precipitous drop in energy prices and possible future non-payments, and supply chain bottlenecks; warns that these will negatively affect companies’ maintenance and upgrade plans, and will delay energy projects of key importance to the integration of the European energy market, to ensuring the security of supply and to the transformation of the energy systems;

109. Calls on the Commission to introduce urgent measures mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, such as ad hoc mechanisms to secure the current investments in the energy sector, additional protective measures and stimuli to develop a European supply chain providing the appropriate components for the projects necessary to transform the European energy sector, and instruments supporting the integration of a growing share of renewables and improving the integration of the European energy system, such as energy storage; stresses that these measures should not lead to increased operating costs for the energy systems, and that they should avoid widening regional disparities and inequalities, and enable a just transition for all;

110. Notes that the coronavirus lockdown measures have moved online many activities previously carried out in person, including those of public authorities, educational and healthcare establishments, and that the use of the online collaborative tools, such as commercial videoconferencing platforms, has increased; expresses concern that a number of these tools have mishandled user data and demonstrated serious security vulnerabilities, making them prone to a growing number of cyber-attacks; encourages the Commission and the Member States, in cooperation with stakeholders, to ensure that online activity around the EU is carried out in a reliable, secure manner, with the highest privacy standards; calls on the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) to ensure businesses’ economic continuity through urgent additional awareness-raising and technical support for enterprises across Europe;

111. Stresses that the crisis has exposed Europe’s vulnerability, lagging behind and unpreparedness in the critical area of telecom infrastructure and digital services, and its dependence on actors from outside the Union, demonstrated inter alia by the EU institutions which have revealed a startling technological and procedural impotence in shifting work to online mode during an emergency; calls on the Commission and the Member States to take account of the above in their policy priorities and plans;

112. Notes that the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) reports suggest that the overall traffic on fixed and mobile networks has significantly increased during the COVID-19 crisis; underlines in this regard that a robust digital infrastructure, namely very high capacity networks, is not only a prerequisite for successful management of possible similar crises, but also for digitalisation of European economies and administrations; calls on the Member States to accelerate the roll-out of 5G networks while addressing security concerns related to the manufacturers of the infrastructure;

113. Compliments the Commission for supporting research and innovation into COVID-19 by mobilising the necessary funds from the EIB for the accelerated development of the vaccine, and supporting 18 projects as part of its emergency call under Horizon 2020; stresses the importance of further urgent action for the immediate diagnosis and treatment of, and vaccinations against, the coronavirus; welcomes the efforts to trigger additional funding under the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a public-private partnership between the Commission and the pharmaceutical industry, to ensure swift access to medicines and diagnostic tools; believes that international collaboration and open science must be enhanced in order to exchange best practices in the area of research and innovation when fighting COVID-19;

114. Stresses the need for better coordination in the area of global risks monitoring, development of risk assessment frameworks and the establishment of response systems among the Member States; believes that such cooperation would lead to better preparation for future critical situations and to building trust among the Member States in their expertise;

115. Emphasises that current and future crises require an impactful response from the R&D sector triggered by a new approach to financing research; expresses deep concern at the sudden resignation of Professor Mauro Ferrara from the post of President of the European Research Council, an agency supporting frontier research at the service of the coronavirus epidemic response, following his statement on the EU’s inadequate response to COVID-19 and its failure to fund scientists to tackle the crisis; calls on the Commission to consider the adoption of contingency rules for emergencies, including by means of modifying the general rule under Horizon 2020 Europe on scientific excellence, so that in an emergency situation the criterion of the impact on society and the economy should be considered as taking precedence, and fast-track procedures are put in place, reducing the highly bureaucratic requirements to apply for the funds;

116. Encourages the Commission to verify online travel agencies’ compliance with the national regulations in force with regard to the cancellation and refund of reservations, in order to guarantee full customer protection and economic sustainability for SMEs;

117. Urges the Commission to arrange and launch a worldwide tourism communication campaign at the end of the emergency, aimed at supporting Europe’s rise to become the world’s first tourist destination;

118. Supports a derogation from Article 33 paragraph 2 of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Regulation which limits the maximum duration of temporary cessation eligible for financing to six months per vessel in the period from 2014 to 2020, which should be introduced accordingly; taking into account that it is now 2020, believes that at the very end of the programming period when the implementation of the operational programmes is very well advanced, an exception for this period of public health crisis should be made;

119. Considers that a derogation, which would allow the transfer of funds from priorities and/or areas that are currently ring-fenced by the EMFF Regulation to other relevant priorities, should be introduced;

120. Supports the public health measures in aquaculture to enable the EMFF to support compensation for temporary cessations due to COVID-19;

121. Calls on the Commission to give fishermen the option to carry over more than the existing 10 % of their fishing quotas to next year as defined under the Flexibility Regulation or Article 15(9) of the Basic Regulation;

External borders

122. Strongly supports the recent actions taken by the Greek authorities aimed at containing mass immigration flows and therefore the potential spread of the virus, including the decision not to accept any asylum applications for a period of one month, pursuant to Article 78(3) of the TFEU, which allows the adoption of provisional measures in situations where an influx of people constitutes an emergency;

123. Deplores any attempt by third countries to use migratory pressure for political gains;

124. Recommends that the Commission and the Member States strengthen medical assistance to the Greek islands and other EU hotspots with high numbers of migrants to ensure early detection of coronavirus cases and appropriate assistance and isolation of ill persons; emphasises the need to forestall new arrivals of illegal migrants to the Greek islands, where the situation is already critical and a coronavirus outbreak may already be out of control;

125. Calls on the Commission to carry out a legal assessment of the possibility of enlarging the scope of Operation IRINI in order to establish a naval blockade off the coastal of Libya with the aim of stopping new departures of illegal migrants; urges the Member States to consider legal measures aimed at discouraging NGOs from launching new rescue operations in the Mediterranean;

126. Notes that criminals are taking advantage of the exceptional circumstances, for example in areas such as fraudulent medicines; urges all national law enforcement authorities to make the fullest possible use of relevant EU bodies like Europol and Eurojust, and to engage in good mutual cooperation, in particular at borders;

International trade

127. Warns against unjustifiable protectionist measures leading to a disruption of the global economy; invites the Commission to step up its efforts to achieve agreement on WTO reform, and welcomes the establishment of the interim dispute settlement until the WTO Appellate Body is once again functioning; stresses that reviving exports are and will be a major instrument of EU economic recovery, as supply chains and markets need to be kept open globally, and invites the G7 and G20 partners, in particular, to do the same;

128. Calls on the Commission to adapt the import tariff quota management of high quality meat cuts to the new market situation in order to support the European meat sector;

129. Is concerned that the delay in the negotiations on the future relationship with the UK due to the coronavirus outbreak increases the chances of a no-deal scenario;

External relations

130. Calls for a coordinated global strategy to fight the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, and urges the EU to take the lead in an adequate global response; stresses the importance of EU crisis management, swift actions and technical assistance aimed at helping developing countries and their healthcare systems in crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; underlines the role of NGOs involved in particular in the provision of the most needed medical equipment and deployment of medical staff;

131. Emphasises the role of the European Solidarity Corps in supporting not only the NGOs providing assistance to the most vulnerable, such as the elderly and disabled, but also those who are under pressure and work in extreme conditions, such as staff providing medical services, for example through the provision of childcare when needed;

132. Calls for an impartial investigation into links between the WHO and China, especially the uncritical use by the WHO of Chinese propaganda in its official communications; underlines the need to reform the WHO in order to make it more independent;

133. Calls for an EU-level investigation into the origin of the coronavirus and the possible responsibilities of the Chinese communist Government in terms of the spread of the virus;

134. Underlines that times of global crisis such as this can be used by some authoritarian states to intensify hybrid warfare and hostile propaganda against their neighbours and the EU and its Member States, as well as to clamp down on internal opposition forces and human rights defenders;

135. Notes that Taiwan’s experts continue to be excluded from the WHO Emergency Committee meetings held in Geneva, although Taiwan has multiple confirmed cases, and that there has been a lack of substantive communication between the WHO and Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on 2019-nCoV as Taiwan has been excluded from the WHO; believes that Taiwan’s experience in dealing successfully with important health issues at home can be of benefit not only regionally, but also globally, and that therefore Taiwan should be invited to participate in an appropriate and meaningful way in the WHO’s activities, mechanisms and meetings, including in the upcoming World Health Assembly and emergency committee of experts meetings; accordingly reiterates its call on the World Health Assembly in Geneva to accept observer status for Taiwan; repeats its call on the Commission and the Member States to officially support Taiwan’s participation in the WHO;

136. Highlights the coordinated disinformation campaigns both online and offline by state-backed actors from third countries that are using the ongoing crisis to undermine trust and credibility in the democratic institutions of the Member States by capitalising on the chaos and uncertainty with the sole purpose of promoting their own political agendas; encourages the Commission to work towards strengthening the relevant bodies, such as the Stratcom task force in the European External Action Service, in order to efficiently fight against disinformation; considers that the most effective antidote is to strengthen media literacy, as well as journalism and the media across the EU; calls for the EU to use all the communication tools at its disposal (information and public communication actions, contact with key media and journalists, social networks, etc.) by providing a useful communications policy for citizens, with preventive and truthful information capable of warning European citizens of the real risks;

 

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137. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

 

 

 

[1] OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 924.

Last updated: 15 April 2020Legal notice - Privacy policy