• International cooperation and solidarity more necessary than ever 
  • Reinforce efforts to fight the pandemic and mitigate consequences outside the EU 
  • Impact of COVID-19 on the weakest may be devastating 

Joint statement of the chairs responsible for external policies in the European Parliament on the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for the EU’s external action.

The Chairs of the Committees on Foreign Affairs, Development, and Trade, the Subcommittees on Human Rights and on Security and Defence, and of the Conference of Delegation Chairs issued the following statement on Monday.

“The pandemic knows no borders. Our defences against the virus are only as strong as those of the weakest countries.

We, in our capacity as the Chairs of Parliament’s bodies responsible for EU foreign policy and action, fully support all the efforts of the EU institutions to coordinate and strengthen our work within the European Union. But no country or union can fight this battle alone.

To highlight this crucial fact, we asked the President of the European Parliament to dedicate one of the upcoming plenary debates to our efforts beyond the EU that must be reinforced or, in some cases, launched to tackle COVID-19 and its consequences.

While Europe remains heavily hit by the pandemic, it must continue supporting our partners in these difficult times. We support efforts to cooperate with our neighbours and partners, near and far, both in the fight against the pandemic as an imminent health issue and against its serious future consequences. We need to work together on the manifold fronts of this battle, not least on scientific cooperation.

In the past few weeks, we have seen remarkable efforts of cooperation and acts of good will. But we have also witnessed increased isolationism, harsh competition between nations for medicines and medical equipment, intense state propaganda and disinformation and a sharp rise in cyberattacks.

We strongly believe that this crisis makes international cooperation efforts even more necessary. We therefore want a more assertive European Union, defending its interests in a spirit of sovereignty and promoting multilateral solutions in a spirit of solidarity. We must not forget that the impact of COVID-19 on the weakest – including in the least developed and in fragile, crisis or conflict-ridden countries – may be devastating.

We agree with the President of the European Council and the European Commission that we can defeat the virus only by working together, globally. The Joint Communication of the European Commission and the High Representative on the global EU response to COVID-19 and last Friday’s resolution of the Parliament are crucial first steps and an illustration of the EU’s role as a global actor.

For the sake of efficiency and the EU’s commitment to multilateralism, we must also apply global solutions within multilateral frameworks. We need to develop long-term policies to increase our own resilience at a global level and to support democratic institutions, human rights and civil liberties across the world, especially in times of emergency measures.

But while we want to fight, with all our might, against the pandemic, we must face the fact that the fight is intrinsically linked to personal loss and pain. Together, we wish to express our deepest sorrow at the loss of life and the human tragedy that citizens across the globe are experiencing due to COVID-19. We would like to extend our condolences to all those who have lost their loved ones.

We also thank those on the front lines, fighting the pandemic and working tirelessly and selflessly: we express our deepest gratitude to the doctors and the nurses, humanitarian workers, and all of those who ensure that essential services are still being provided. We welcome the support provided by armed forces throughout the EU to public health services, in particular in the field of cross-border cooperation.”

The statement was co-signed by David McAllister (EPP, DE), Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Bernd Lange (S&D, DE), Chair of the Committee on Trade, Tomas Tobé (EPP, SE), Chair of the Committee on Development, Maria Arena (S&D, BE), Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Nathalie Loiseau (RE, FR), Chair of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence, and Inma Rodríguez-Piñero (S&D, ES), Chair of Conference of Delegation Chairs.

Background

The European Parliament adopted a resolution on the EU’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic on 17 April.

On Monday, 20 April the Committee on Foreign Affairs, together with the Subcommittees on Security and Defence and on Human Rights will hold an exchange of views with the Vice-President/High Representative Josep Borrell on the external dimension of the EU response to COVID-19.

On Tuesday, 21 April the Committee on Development with hold a discussion with Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen and Commissioner Janez Lenarčič on the EU response to the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on developing countries and on the humanitarian response to the crisis respectively.