Let’s help European Industry step up against COVID-19, say MEPs 

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Industrial sectors need support and incentives to contribute to the fight against COVID-19, said Industry, Research and Energy Committee Chair and political groups coordinators on Friday.

“In a context of the novel corona virus crisis, our role as individuals is to support our national Governments and the front line workers in their action. Member States, and in particular their emergency task forces deserve our gratitude and support for all the actions taken and need our continuous support further on!” said ITRE committee Chair Cristian-Silviu Bușoi (EPP, RO). “Afterwards, as lawmakers, we will have to reflect upon the many things will have to change in the long term if we want to be ready if such a pandemic were to happen again” he said.

“We now want to build a response that will allow the EU to make a concrete difference on the ground, in support of the Member States, who often felt on their own. We will have to beef up EU competences so preparedness and response are more integrated, because pandemics know no borders” he said.

Mobilise EU research funds to support medical research on Coronavirus

ITRE committee political group coordinators also called on the European Commission and the Member States to ensure that all necessary funding and research is directed towards promptly identifying and making available treatments and vaccines, building on the Union’s world-class research and pharmaceutical expertise. Given the current lack of protective equipment, sanitizers, and emergency equipment, and the fast spreading nature of this outbreak, they call on Europe's industry to urgently step up production of needed supplies such as respirators and protective equipment.

The Commission should step up support to SMEs and the industries most affected

One of the he priorities for the ITRE Committee given the current circumstances is the situation of SMEs and industries most affected, including those sectors that are suffering from the disruption of supply chains, they said, pledging to start a dialogue with Commissioner Breton. They called for measures to be taken in addition and beyond the measures already included in the recent SME strategy, in order to help EU’s SMEs to be resilient in times of crisis.

MEPs welcome the decisions of European companies that have already adapted their production to combat the crisis, demonstrating that a strong industrial base is an asset for the whole society and our sovereignty as a continent.

Make sure that Internet and mobile networks continue to function normally

MEPs also call on European telecom operators to ensure that the Internet and mobile networks continue to function normally, and on the Commission to intensify its efforts to ensure that robust and reliable very high capacity networks are rolled out to everyone, everywhere, in the Union so that the infrastructure can deal with demand in all circumstances.

Quotes from ITRE coordinators

Christian Ehler (EPP, DE) said: “The competitiveness of our economy relies on the technological advancement which comes from strong investment in research and innovation. In order to quickly overcome the economic effects of the COVID19 criss, investments in research and innovation will be a key element. We urgently need to start preparing for the future. The question of mobility is a crucial one: how to ensure our economies can remain interconnected and our mobility less affected in a potential future crisis?"

Dan Nica (S&D, RO) said: “I cannot stress more how important research and innovation is for finding the medical solutions to this crisis. Sound investments in research and innovation are capital to overcome this pandemic. I therefore urge the European Commission to unleash the funds for a dedicated and temporary mission under Horizon on the prevention and treatment of the COVID19. Digital infrastructures and ICT are essential and should be made available to take over future remote medical interventions, as some regions and territories are lacking medical expertise. Remote interventions could work only within secure and high speed networks, we cannot miss the opportunity to fully implement European measures. Only through unity and solidarity can we fight the outbreak of Covid 19 and protect our citizens for the future”.

Martina Dlabajovà (Renew, CZ) said: “We absolutely need to support our SMEs and industry, in the long term we might even require systemic changes, but in the short-term I want to highlight the urgency to rapidly mobilise all available R&I funding for our companies, universities and researchers, and to show EU leadership by coordinating research efforts globally. This includes the sharing of research, data, and findings between governments, industry and academia. Secondly, we need to ensure, and if possible upgrade, key infrastructures: we cannot afford faulty digital networks when we ask our companies to go digital and for people to telework, and no region can afford to have power shortages at this moment”.

Paolo Borchia (ID, IT) said: “Many European enterprises even altered their manufacturing lines in order to produce protective medical equipment for hospitals, thus filling the gap in the supply chain until Member States manage to secure sufficient stocks. Other businesses pledged to save jobs by even raising their employee’s salaries. But European SMEs can’t be expected to keep fighting by themselves, as much stronger support is needed by the EU. Yesterday’s vote was a step forward, but much more needs to be done”.

Ville Niinistö (Greens/EFA, FI) “This crisis sees no borders and impacts everyone, and thus everyone needs to remember their personal responsibility in the fight against the corona virus. In the industrial sector politics this means keeping our SMEs alive during and after the crisis, targeting EU funded research to find a cure and ensuring that any financial support given to industries does not harm our other goals - we must keep pushing for an ambitious green deal”.

Zdzisław Krasnodębski (ECR, PL) said: “It is clear that the Commission should re-examine its political priorities and to consider scaling back its pre-crisis regulatory ambitions under initiatives such as the European Green Deal. We must also ensure emergency measures mainstreaming in all European policies enabling the Member States to apply swiftly countermeasures in a situation of energy, epidemiological or food hazards. European institutions should also reflect and draw conclusions from its startling procedural and technological unpreparedness to shift work to online mode during the crisis”.

Marc Botenga (GUE/NGL, BE) said: “In several factories, workers took the initiative to adapt production to the urgent needs of society. That is the kind of industry we want in Europe. The EU and Member States should now lift obstacles to the development and rapid deployment of much needed treatment and vaccines. With public funding, pro-public safeguards can guarantee that vaccines and treatments against #COVID19 become widely available free of charge”.