Procedure : 2020/2780(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B9-0269/2020

Texts tabled :

B9-0269/2020

Debates :

PV 15/09/2020 - 11
CRE 15/09/2020 - 11

Votes :

Texts adopted :

P9_TA(2020)0240

<Date>{14/09/2020}14.9.2020</Date>
<NoDocSe>B9‑0269/2020</NoDocSe>
PDF 148kWORD 49k

<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 COVID-19: EU coordination of health assessments and risk classification, and the consequences for Schengen and the single market</Titre>

<DocRef>(2020/2780(RSP))</DocRef>


<RepeatBlock-By><Depute>Petra De Sutter, Anna Cavazzini, Francisco Guerreiro, Monika Vana, Tilly Metz</Depute>

<Commission>{Verts/ALE}on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group</Commission>

</RepeatBlock-By>

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0257/2020

B9‑0269/2020

European Parliament resolution on COVID-19: EU coordination of health assessments and risk classification, and the consequences for Schengen and the single market

(2020/2780(RSP))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union,

 having regard to Article 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), as well as to Articles 4, 6, 9, 21, 67, 114, 153, 169 and 191 thereof,

 having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Articles 35 and 45 thereof,

 having regard to Regulation (EU) 2016/399 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016 on a Union Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code)[1],

 having regard to Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States[2] (the Free Movement Directive), and the principle of non-discrimination enshrined therein,

 having regard to the Commission guidelines for border management measures to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and essential services[3] and concerning the exercise of the free movement of workers during the COVID-19 outbreak[4],

 having regard to its resolution of 17 April 2020 on EU coordinated action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences[5],

 having regard to the Commission communication of 13 May 2020 towards a phased and coordinated approach for restoring freedom of movement and lifting internal border controls – COVID-19[6],

 having regard to the Commission communication of 11 June 2020 on the third assessment of the application of the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU (COM(2020)0399),

 having regard to its resolution of 19 June 2020 on the situation in the Schengen area following the COVID‑19 outbreak[7],

 having regard to its resolution of 10 July 2020 on the EU’s public health strategy post-COVID-19[8],

 having regard to the Commission communication of 15 July 2020 on the short-term EU health preparedness for COVID-19 outbreaks (COM(2020)0318),

 having regard to the Commission proposal of 4 September 2020 for a Council recommendation on a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic (COM(2020)0499),

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

A. whereas the COVID-19 pandemic has moved from an acute to a chronic risk management phase;

B. whereas the intensity of the spread of the virus differs greatly from one Member State to another and from one region to another within the same country;

C. whereas no safe and effective vaccine is currently available;

D. whereas differing approaches to the collection of data relating to COVID-19 across the EU makes it difficult to compare data;

E. whereas the EU response to the COVID-19 pandemic has so far demonstrated a lack of coordination between Member States in terms of coordination of public health measures, including the restriction of movement of people within and across borders and the suspension of other rights and laws;

F. whereas Member States have organised themselves at national level, leading to great disparities within the European Union;

G. whereas the free movement of goods, persons and services are essential pillars of the four freedoms on which the functioning of the internal market is based; whereas the supply of goods was jeopardised by the closure of borders and national restrictions during the first phase of the COVID-19 crisis;

H. whereas many Europeans have been made subject to different rules depending not only on their nationality or place of residence, but also on where they have travelled to; whereas this lack of coordination during the summer period led to disorganised controls and measures at borders, as well as within airports and train stations;

I. whereas the COVID-19 crisis has not only had major health impacts, but also very significant negative consequences for economic, scientific, touristic and cultural exchanges;

J. whereas the provision of healthcare is a national competence, but public health is a competence shared between the Member States and the Union;

K. whereas there is still scope for the European Union to better deliver on public health policy within the existing parameters of the Treaties; whereas public health provisions under the Treaties are still largely underutilised in terms of the commitments they could be used to fulfil;

L. whereas cross-border threats can only be addressed together and thus require cooperation and solidarity within the Union;

M. whereas the European Parliament has asked the Commission to propose a revised mandate for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in order to increase its budget, staffing and competences;

N. whereas free movement rights can be restricted to protect certain public interests, namely the protection of public health, public policy and public security; whereas such limitations must be applied in compliance with the general principles of EU law, in particular those of proportionality and non-discrimination, and with respect for fundamental rights; whereas any measures taken cannot extend beyond what is strictly necessary to safeguard the public interest that justified their adoption;

O. whereas solidarity between Member States is not an option but a Treaty obligation and part of our European values;

P. whereas the Commission has already taken various initiatives, such as guidelines, communications, administrative letters and a proposal for a Council recommendation on a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic;

Q. whereas Parliament, as co-legislator and the only institution directly elected by EU citizens, must be included as an integral and essential part of all discussions on EU coordination to tackle this health crisis;

R. whereas the EU seems not to have learned the lessons from the beginning of the crisis; whereas there is still no common European health policy, but a multitude of national policies;

1. Strongly emphasises the need for shared and coordinated health management to fight this pandemic effectively;

2. Highlights that the latest decisions on travel restrictions by certain Member States have created uncertainty for both citizens and businesses, especially cross-border workers, owing to disparities in the measures and criteria applied from one Member State to another, such as on the length of quarantine periods, the definition of essential travel, and mandatory or recommended requirements; points, therefore, to the importance of ensuing the consistency of measures taken from one Member State to another;

3. Recalls that freedom of movement for EU citizens is a fundamental right enshrined in the EU Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and that the absence of any controls on persons crossing internal borders forms part of the EU’s objective of establishing an area without internal frontiers;

4. Underlines that this right can be restricted only for specific and limited reasons of public interest, namely the protection of public health, public policy and public security;

5. Insists that any restrictions can only be applied in compliance with the general principles of EU law, in particular proportionality and non-discrimination;

6. Reiterates the position it expressed in its resolution of 19 June 2020 on the situation in the Schengen area following the COVID-19 outbreak; calls on the Member States to ensure a swift return to a fully functional Schengen area without restrictions on freedom of movement; calls on the authorities of Denmark, Lithuania, Hungary, Norway and Finland to reverse the border controls they introduced at their internal borders owing to COVID-19; condemns the use of discriminatory restrictions on the right of entry by the Hungarian authorities and calls on the Commission to initiate an infringement procedure on this issue as soon as possible;

7. Recalls that the border closures and other restrictive measures taken earlier this year caused severe disruptions to the internal market and jeopardised the supply of essential goods such as food and medical and protective equipment, which had a severe impact on not only the everyday lives of citizens, but also the capacity of the Member States to respond to the crisis; stresses that it is of the utmost importance to ensure the provision of essential goods in the internal market at all times in order to guarantee a functioning supply chain; believes that a comprehensive strategy should be developed in this respect in order to ensure the free circulation of goods at all times and to avoid unilateral restrictive measures;

8. Underlines that COVID-19 has revealed a fundamental lack of resilience in the EU and international economic system, especially in relation to long supply chains and just-in-time delivery systems for critical medical supplies and other essential goods; considers that the European Green Deal and the EU’s objective of climate neutrality should be at the core of the recovery of our economy and improve its resilience, as well as the EU’s strategic autonomy;

9. Points out that a number of scams and unsafe products have been putting the safety of consumers at risk since the beginning of this crisis; reiterates its call for citizens to be properly informed and protected from unsafe products at all times; considers that this should be properly addressed in product safety legislation by imposing obligations on online platforms and marketplaces, when notified, to prevent unsafe and illegal products from circulating online and consumers from being exposed to malpractice; calls for reinforced cooperation mechanisms and uniform rules on checks at EU level for market surveillance activities, including on the frequency of those checks;

10. Urges the Member States to adopt only necessary, coordinated and proportionate measures when restricting travel or introducing internal border controls, after careful evaluation of their effectiveness to address the public health issue, following the same methodology for the collection of health data and using the same criteria to assess and monitor the risk of the pandemic;

11. Points out that the ECDC continues to highlight disparities in the data collection and data reporting by Member States; deplores the fact that this lack of harmonisation prevents the EU from having a clear and complete picture of the spread of the virus in Europe;

12. Notes that each Member State has been following the recommendations of its own scientific council without coordinating with the other Member States or the Commission;

13. Urges the Council to swiftly adopt the Commission’s proposed Council recommendation for a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; insists that such a common framework is crucial to avoid any disruption in the internal market, not least by establishing clear rules for travellers who perform essential functions, such as transport workers, providers of cross-border services such as health and elderly care, and seasonal workers;

14. Underlines that the common methodology and criteria proposed in that Council recommendation and the maps published by the ECDC should facilitate a consistent and coordinated approach to the Member States’ decision-making processes;

15. Acknowledges the importance of incidence rates and positive test rates in evaluating the spread of the virus, but also insists on the need to assess the situation taking into account other health criteria such as hospitalisation rates and intensive care unit occupancy rates;

16. Calls on the Commission to promote a common methodology for counting and reporting the number of deaths;

17. Urges the Member States to adopt the same definition for a positive case of COVID-19 and for a death by COVID-19;

18. Underlines that common definitions, health criteria and methodologies will allow the Member States and the Commission to conduct a common analysis of the epidemiological risk at EU level;

19. Recalls that the ECDC has recommended that the Member States follow minimum baselines measures to avoid the spread of the virus, such as hygiene measures, physical distancing and limiting gatherings, using face masks in specific settings, teleworking arrangements, extensive testing, isolation of cases, quarantine of close contacts and protection of vulnerable populations;

20. Calls on the Member States to follow the ECDC’s abovementioned recommendations and to define a common framework of health measures that public authorities in affected areas should adopt in order to halt the spread of the pandemic;

21. Acknowledges that additional measures should be considered and shared by public authorities if the rate of transmission increases, including interventions limiting population movement, reducing the number of contacts per person, avoiding mass gatherings, paying particular attention to high-risk areas or recommending that people stay at home;

22. Considers that such a framework would strengthen mutual trust between the Member States and between the affected areas, and avoid restrictive measures in response;

23. Calls on the Member States to pay particular attention to the specificities of cross-border regions and to insist on the need to cooperate at local and regional level;

24. Considers that in the event of an active cross-border spreading zone, public authorities should jointly establish health mechanisms for real-time coordination and exchange of information;

25. Stresses that a coordinated application of health measures on both sides of borders appears essential to ensure that they are consistent, effective and supported by the population;

26. Calls for the adoption and the implementation of a common testing strategy in all Member States, especially in cross-border regions;

27. Considers that the Member States should agree on the minimum number of tests to be carried out per day in accordance with the colour of the zone affected;

28. Underlines that the comparability of test results will allow reciprocal recognition from one country to another;

29. Calls on the Member States to mutually recognise the results of COVID-19 infection tests carried out by certified health bodies in other Member States;

30. Calls on the Member States and the Commission to agree on a common quarantine period while considering the opinion of the ECDC;

31. Calls on the Member States to adopt a common protocol for monitoring asymptomatic patients and measures regarding the isolation of patients who tested positive for COVID-19;

32. Takes note of the use of passenger locator forms and guest contact lists in restaurants and other public venues; emphasises that such forms and lists should only be used if necessary and proportionate and in full compliance with data protection rules, in particular integrity and confidentiality; insists that the data recorded should only be used for COVID-19 contact tracing and not for any other purpose, in line with the principle of purpose limitation; urges Member States to clarify this in the relevant legislation;

33. Recalls that giving the public clear, timely and comprehensive information is crucial to limiting the impacts of any restrictions to free movement put in place, and to ensure predictability, legal certainty and compliance by citizens;

34. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

 

[1] OJ L 77, 23.3.2016, p. 1.

[2] OJ L 158, 30.4.2004, p. 77.

[3] OJ C 86 I , 16.3.2020, p. 1.

[4] OJ C 102 I , 30.3.2020, p. 12.

[5] Texts adopted, P9_TA(2020)0054.

[6] OJ C 169, 15.5.2020, p. 30.

[7] Texts adopted, P9_TA(2020)0175.

[8] Texts adopted, P9_TA(2020)0205.

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