Sassoli at plenary: We need to keep our democracies alive and listen to our citizens 


Speech of EP President David Sassoli at opening of European Parliament Plenary session

Good morning everyone, colleagues present and those who join us from remote connections.

At the start of the debate, I would like to express our thoughts for the victims of the Coronavirus, for their families and loved ones.

I would also like to send our best wishes for a speedy recovery to all those currently suffering from the disease.

Right now, our healthcare professionals are at the forefront of the fight against this virus.

They deserve all our support, admiration and gratitude for the work they are doing and for the generosity they show even in the most difficult circumstances.

Our thoughts also go to all the volunteers and people who are helping to support those in difficulty.

I said it and I repeat it, the humanity of our citizens is our greatest asset.

I would also like to thank all those workers who keep our companies running, from farmers to those delivering packages, security forces, supermarket cashiers to technicians who allow us to call and connect via the internet, and to journalists keeping us informed. Many people, who continue to work in their fields of competence, who keep going with discipline and a sense of responsibility: our thanks to all of them.

And we shouldn't forget all the citizens who make the difference with simple actions: respecting preventive measures, buying for an elderly neighbor, calling isolated friends, taking care of the most vulnerable people.

Small gestures of concrete solidarity, as our Parliament wanted to do by opening its kitchens to prepare up to 1000 meals a day for homeless people and volunteers. While, 100 vulnerable women will also be hosted in our Brussels premises.

Also, in Strasbourg and Luxembourg, we have given the authorities the ability to use Parliament's premises for emergency-related activities.

They are the cities that host us, which we are forever grateful for, and with you, I want to greet the citizens of Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg and say that soon it will be nice to meet again and continue working together as the European Union.

Parliament's work has been affected by this emergency. I confess that I found myself taking difficult decisions but have always felt supported and encouraged by all political groups, none excluded, and by advice from many of you.

Of course, the work of Parliament would not have been possible without the extraordinary support of our staff and the administration which, with courage and sense of duty, is present and operational.

This is why I want to ask the Secretary-General and all the Directors-General to convey our gratitude to the staff, from the those working in isolation to all those who have been following up on the decisions we have taken to remain operational.

Every effort, including that of keeping Parliament open and functioning, must show that we take care of people, that we continue even in an emergency to respect our values, and that democracy does not stop.

These are difficult times and much more will have to be done - including a profound reflection on the society we want - but the EU is already fully committed to meeting the needs of citizens and Member States, in our common interest, during this crisis and after to contribute to the global response to Coronavirus.

The EU is acting to support health systems and make essential medical products available, support research, help preserve jobs and support families and the most vulnerable, and to provide help to farmers, fishermen and businesses.

Only together can we achieve results for the good of our citizens, and for this reason, it is of the utmost importance to coordinate the gradual elimination of containment measures and find a way out of the crisis.

We make our own the appeal to the European Commission, represented here today by President Von der Leyen, whom I thank, for an orderly and coordinated exit from this emergency, to avoid the return of effects that could be devastating.

It is especially important to keep our democracies alive and to listen to our citizens during this period. As their elected representatives, we will discuss and vote on a resolution on coordinated EU action to combat the pandemic and its consequences, along with other urgent measures, at this session.

Our aim is to give indications on the best measures to be taken and highlight the funds necessary to ensure the maximum possible resources are available to Member States. We must be ambitious because European citizens are waiting for a rapid response.

We are the voice of our citizens, at this time we must contribute to this fight with discipline, and be useful in building a better future.