European responses to the corona crisis – Part 1 (12 March – 27 March)

During the Corona virus crises, the European Science-Media Hub is collecting and publishing a regular update of the most relevant releases provided by EU institutions and other European and global actors. (12 March – 27 March)

March 27, 2020 update

Video conference of EU ministers responsible for Cohesion Policy on the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative
The main topic was the new package of specific Cohesion Policy measures the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII) as an integral part of the European Coordinated Response to mitigate the economic consequences of coronavirus outbreak.

Boosting budget for repatriation flights and rescEU stockpile
The European Commission has proposed to make €75 million from the EU budget available to help Member States repatriate EU nationals and to increase the budget of the RescEU medical stockpile.

EP ITRE Committee statement
Let’s help European Industry step up against COVID-19.

March 26, 2020 update

Guidance to ensure essential freight keeps moving by air
The European Commission calls on EU Member States to support air cargo operations during the coronavirus crisis. The new guidance recommends operational and organisational steps to keep essential transport flows moving, including medical supplies and personnel.

Joint statement of the Members of the European Council
“We will do everything that is necessary to protect our citizens and overcome the crisis, while preserving our European values and way of life.”

WHO statement
Director-General calls on G20 to Fight, Unite, and Ignite against COVID-19.

WHO Europe statement
Physical and mental health key to resilience during COVID-19 pandemic.

Parliament approves crucial EU support measures
As part of the EU’s joint response to the COVID-19 outbreak, MEPs almost unanimously adopted three urgent proposals in an extraordinary plenary session.

Joint Statement by European Commission President von der Leyen and European Council President Michel following the G20 Leaders’ videoconference
The Presidents of the Commission and the Council stressed that unprecedented events call for unprecedented action and that fast, massive and coordinated global action is necessary on the health and economic fronts to save lives and avoid a further economic crisis.

Speech by European Commission President von der Leyen
At the European Parliament Plenary on the European coordinated response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Guidelines Facilitating Air Cargo Operations during COVID-19 outbreak
The European Commission published a communication calling on EU Member States to support air cargo operations during the coronavirus crisis.

EFPIA: Fighting the fakes
There has never been a more important time to stress the need for patients and consumers to only buy their medicines from legitimate, trusted sources.

CEPS: This time is different
The memory of the financial crisis of 2008/9 is still very fresh. This is the reason why financial markets will not collapse this time.

EP BUDG Committee statement
MEPs call for bold response to Corona emergency

• EESC statement
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) backs up the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative of the European Commission but calls for a larger European Investment plan.

FAO statement
A battle plan for ensuring global food supplies during the COVID-19 crisis.

EDPS on Monitoring spread of COVID-19
The European Data Protection Supervisor underlines that data protection rules currently in force in Europe are flexible enough to allow for various measures taken in the fight against pandemics.

DG SANTE: Note for the attention of national competent authorities
The European Commission has clarified that Substances of Human Origin (SoHO) are considered to be essential goods/services for which free circulation within the EU is crucial.

EU Disinformation Review
Disinformation can kill.

March 25, 2020 update

Guidelines to protect critical European assets and technology in current crisis
The European Commission issued guidelines to ensure a strong EU-wide approach to foreign investment screening in a time of public health crisis and related economic vulnerability. The aim is to preserve EU companies and critical assets, notably in areas such as health, medical research, biotechnology and infrastructures that are essential for our security and public order, without undermining the EU’s general openness to foreign investment.

Commission stands ready to continue supporting EU’s agri-food sector
Ensuring food security and an effective food supply chain across the continent remains one of the European Commission’s priorities.

UN: COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan
The UN launches major humanitarian appeal to keep COVID-19.

EMCDDA statement
The implications of COVID-19 for people who use drugs (PWUD) and drug service providers.

ECDC seventh Covid-19 update
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control publishes updated data on the epidemiological situation in the EU/EEA and the UK.

Harmonised standards for medical devices to respond to urgent needs
The European Commission adopted decisions on harmonised standards which will allow manufacturers to place on the market high performing devices to protect patients, health care professionals and citizens in general.

EP AFET, DEV and BUDG Committees’ letter to High Representative J. Borrell
Committee Chairs express support for the Commission’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 crisis and emphasise the importance of showing solidarity with affected third countries, in particular those in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood.

• ECHA: Speeding up the supply of disinfectants
To increase the manufacture and supply of disinfectants on the European market, the European Chemical Agency is supporting EU/EEA authorities to apply derogations from the normal authorisation requirement for biocidal products.

WTO Statement 25 March 2020
World Trade Organisation requests members to share information on trade measures related to COVID-19 and calls for transparency with regard to trade-related policies introduced to fight the virus.

EP statement
MEPs will vote to make €37 billion from EU structural funds available to EU countries to tackle the coronavirus crisis during the plenary session on 26 March.

Business Europe statement
EU leaders must protect the European economy, whatever it takes.

EPHA Statement
European Public Health Alliance: COVID-19 reveals urgent need for a common European public health approach.

WEF on How COVID-19 shows the urgent need to address the cyber poverty gap
Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic requires secure vital services, networks and capabilities. Yet recent cyberattacks against organizations including the World Health Organization reveal a cyber-poverty gap between those that are prepared and those that are not. Solutions include adopting next-generation technology and focusing on skills development.

How can Digital Innovation Hubs help in time of Covid-19?
Slides and video recording are available.

Call for action by EUPHA
Migrant and Ethnic Minority Health section calls for reducing the impact of the coronavirus crisis on those ‘left behind’: Disadvantaged Migrants and Ethnic Minorities.

ITUC Global COVID-19 Survey
Half of countries in lockdown as COVID-19 pandemic wreaks health and economic havoc on working people and their families.

Additional support via Horizon 2020 to strengthen priorities, including coronavirus research
The Commission has adopted an update of the 2020 Work Programme of Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme to allocate increased funding to its priorities, including urgently needed research and innovation projects into the coronavirus.

March 24, 2020 update

Commission bid to ensure supply of personal protective equipment for the EU proves successful
Producers made offers covering and in some cases even exceeding the quantities requested by the Member States that take part in the procurement, for every single item requested. The joint procurement covers masks type 2 and 3, gloves, goggles, face-shields, surgical masks and overalls.

Committee of regions to launch an exchange platform to support regional and local communities
An exchange platform will help sharing needs and solutions, will enhance mutual support and act as a feedback mechanism to enable a reality check of the EU measures from the local and regional angle.

Facebook Statement
Keeping Our Services Stable and Reliable During the COVID-19 Outbreak

ETUC statement
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) is calling on the Eurogroup to support corona bonds, and the European Commission to postpone its EU economic-policy making Semester.

Find factual information about the Coronavirus
As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic intensifies across the globe, rumours and disinformation are spreading with it. The need for factual, authoritative information about the disease is of paramount importance.

ECHA: Speeding up the supply of disinfectants
To increase the manufacture and supply of disinfectants on the European market, ECHA is supporting EU/EEA authorities to apply derogations from the normal authorisation requirement for biocidal products.

EP: EU countries to get help from Solidarity
In an extraordinary plenary session on 26 March, MEPs will vote on a European Commission proposal to allow member states to request financial assistance from the EU Solidarity Fund in their fight against Covid-19. The proposal is part of a set of EU measures to mobilise all existing budget resources to help EU countries tackle the pandemic.

EP: Helping farmers secure supply of food for all
EU needs further measures to ensure continuous supply of food for citizens and support farmers’ efforts to this end, Agriculture Committee Chair said.

What COVID-19 is teaching us about inequality and the sustainability of our health systems?
EuroHealthNet: COVID-19 is painfully exposing the existing and persisting health inequalities in our societies. This pandemic will have the heaviest impact on the lives of people living in deprivation or facing difficult socio-economic circumstances.

EEAS: The Coronavirus pandemic and the new world it is creating
COVID-19 will reshape our world. We don’t yet know when the crisis will end. But we can be sure that by the time it does, our world will look very different. How different will depend on the choices we make today.

Statement of G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors
Consistent with the direction from G7 Leaders, we are taking action and enhancing coordination on our dynamic domestic and international policy efforts to respond to the global health, economic, and financial impacts associated with the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Respiratory doctors urge governments to ensure free movement of essential medical supplies
The European Respiratory Society (ERS) adds its voice to those raising the alarm bells regarding border controls and export bans, which have an enormous impact on the free movement of essential medical supplies around Europe.

March 23, 2020 update

Bruegel: Big data versus COVID-19: opportunities and privacy challenges
All available resources need to be brought to bear on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. To what extent can digital technology help? What risks are there in using big data to combat COVID-19, and what policies can mitigate any limitations that these risks impose?

UN Secretary General’s statement
Appeal for Global Cease-Fire

Common position of European Commission / Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) Network
Stopping scams and tackling unfair business practices on online platforms in the context of the Coronavirus outbreak in the EU.

Video conference of EU foreign affairs ministers
We are at a critical moment. This virus ignores national borders. It is causing an unprecedented global crisis.

EP IMCO Committee’s statement
EP Internal Market Committee Chair Petra de Sutter: EU must ensure access to medical gear and future vaccine.

EP LIBE Committee’s statement
Refugees on Greek islands: MEPs urge evacuation of camps to prevent spread of COVID-19

ECN’s statement on application of competition law during the Corona crisis
The European Competition Network will not hesitate to take action against companies taking advantage of the current situation by cartelising or abusing their dominant position.

Norway takes initiative for new coronavirus fund at UN
Norway is taking the initiative to create a new multi-donor fund at the United Nations to assist developing countries with weak health systems in addressing the coronavirus crisis.

Airport operators & service providers’ statement
Airport operators & service providers call for “urgent supporting measures” from European Commission & States.

Practical guidance to ensure continuous flow of goods across EU via green lanes
The European Commission issued new practical advice on how to implement its Guidelines for border management, in order to keep freight moving across the EU during the current pandemic.

New round of repatriations of EU citizens via Civil Protection Mechanism
The EU continues to help EU Member States with the repatriation of their citizens stranded abroad due to increasing number of restrictions in third countries.

Amnesty International Statement
The G20 must put human rights and the public interest at the heart of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

EFPIA: Europe’s COVID-19 battle: Update on the supply of medicines to the patients that need them
Today stock levels of medicines and manufacturing cadence are being maintained. The situation remains fluid, a pandemic of this scale contains inevitable uncertainty, but at this point EFPIA members do not anticipate impacts to their supply chains unless disruption due to the COVID-19 outbreak is sustained over several months.
Members continually monitor their supply chains and contingency plans as well as liaising with the Commission, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Member States and their Competent Authorities to address issues as they arise with pragmatic approaches that put patient needs first. At the same time, researchers from across our member companies will continue the quest to find diagnostics, vaccines and treatments to address the crisis.

How unprecedented data sharing has led to faster-than-ever outbreak research?
Advances in gene sequencing have allowed scientists to trace and monitor the COVID-19 pandemic faster than any previous outbreak. However, gaps in our knowledge of how coronaviruses work has made it difficult to understand what makes the new coronavirus special.

March 22, 2020 update

International Energy Agency: The coronavirus crisis reminds us that electricity is more indispensable than ever
The huge disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis has highlighted how much modern societies rely on electricity

March 21, 2020 update

Europol’s statement
Rise of fake ‘corona cures’ revealed in global counterfeit medicine operation

March 20, 2020 update

UN statement
Humanitarian workers reiterate need for support to the most vulnerable during COVID-19 pandemic.

OECD: Joint actions to win the war
Now is the time for urgent and large-scale responses, to be taken at sub-national, national and international levels. They must be launched at once, taking into account different time horizons and imperatives.

Economic slowdown as a result of COVID is no substitute for Climate Action
Statement by the World Meteorological Organisation

Beyond Containment: Health systems responses to COVID-19 in the OECD
The main focus of this brief is on the policies aimed at providing effective care and managing the pressure on health systems. Four key measures health systems are putting in place in response to the epidemic are considered:
1) ensuring access of the vulnerable to diagnostics and treatment;
2) strengthening and optimising health system capacity to respond to the rapid increase in caseloads;
3) how to leverage digital solutions and data to improve surveillance and care;
4) how to improve R&D for accelerated development of diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.

European standards for medical supplies made freely available to facilitate increase of production
Upon the urgent request of the European Commission, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC), in collaboration with all their members, have agreed to immediately make available a number of European standards for certain medical devices and personal protective equipment.

Proposal to activate fiscal framework’s general escape clause to respond to pandemic
The European Commission proposes the activation of the general escape clause of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) as part of its strategy to respond quickly, forcefully and in a coordinated manner to the coronavirus pandemic.

March 19, 2020 update

EP: Research package welcomed, EU needs to be better equipped in future
Crisis-response measures should be combined with a long-term commitment to EU research programmes, says said Horizon Europe rapporteur Christian Ehler.

Exportation of certain products subject to the production of an export authorisation
A European Commission implementing regulation

Temporary Framework to enable Member States to further support the economy in the COVID-19 outbreak
The European Commission has adopted a Temporary Framework to enable Member States to use the full flexibility foreseen under State aid rules to support the economy in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Statement on the processing of personal data in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak
The European Data Protection Board: Governments, public and private organisations throughout Europe are taking measures to contain and mitigate COVID-19. This can involve the processing of different types of personal data.

European Parliament to hold extraordinary plenary
EP President and political group leaders decided to hold an extraordinary plenary session next Thursday, 26 March to allow for implementation of special measures.

EP President Sassoli’s statement
Europe is showing the power of solidarity.

Commission creates first ever rescEU stockpile of medical equipment
The European Commission has decided to create a strategic rescEU stockpile of medical equipment such as ventilators and protective masks to help EU countries in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commission calls on streaming services, operators and users to prevent network congestion, discusses issue with European regulators
As a result of social distancing measures put in place across Europe to fight the Coronavirus pandemic, the demand for Internet capacity has increased, be it for teleworking, e-learning or entertainment purposes. This could put networks under strain at a moment when they need to be operational at the best possible level. In order to prevent congestion and to ensure the open Internet, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton has called on the responsibility of streaming services, operators and users.

Commission and EU consumer authorities take action against the spread of fake products online
Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been a rise in rogue traders selling false products online, which allegedly can prevent or cure the new virus. Those false claims include a number of goods such as masks, caps, and hand sanitizers

EP PECH Committee’s statement
Addressing socio-economic consequences on the fisheries and aquaculture sectors

March 18, 2020 update

EP President David Sassoli’s statement
Europe shows it is united and ready to act.

ECB announces €750 billion Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme
This new Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) will have an overall envelope of €750 billion.

EU recommendations for community measures
International scientific consensus shows that community measures, including social distancing, will have an important impact on preventing and delaying the spread of the virus. These recommendations aim at promoting effective and proportionate community measures. Such actions must be seen as part of wider strategies implemented by Member States through their national pandemic plans. By slowing down the transmission rate, the pressure on healthcare systems is reduced which is essential to protect patients and health workers.

EU recommendations for testing strategies
Timely and accurate laboratory testing is an essential part of the management of COVID-19. Robust testing strategies have shown to be an important tool in slowing down the epidemic, supporting decisions on infection control strategies at the health care facilities and improving the knowledge of virological aspects of COVID-19.

EMA gives advice on the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories for COVID-19
EMA is aware of reports, especially on social media, which raise questions about whether non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen could worsen coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

WHO, UNICEF and UNDP Partner with WhatsApp to Get Real Time Health Information to Billions around the World
WhatsApp today announced the launch of two initiatives in support of the global fight against the Coronavirus pandemic: the global launch of the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, the World Health Organization and UNICEF, and a $1m donation to the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).

EP IMCO / TRAN Committees’ statement
The continuous supply of essential goods and vital medical and protective equipment within the Single Market is key to addressing the COVID-19 crisis.

EP REGI Committee’s statement
Regional Development Committee triggers the urgent procedure to adopt the Corona Response Investment Initiative measures.

EP GUE/NGL group’s statement
Two online petitions that call on the EU to ‘decongest’ the camps on the Greek islands to prevent a coronavirus tragedy have already garnered over 100,000 signatures in a matter of days.

EIT Health-supported Wellola delivers secure patient portal in the wake of COVID-19
Providing a patient portal to communicate in the wake of COVID-19

Review summarises liver injury from human coronavirus infections, including SARS-CoV-2
A review published in Liver International journal summarises the characteristics and mechanism of liver injury caused by three highly pathogenic human coronavirus infections: severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS‐CoV), Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS‐CoV), and SARS‐CoV‐2 infection (referred to widely in the media as COVID-19). The findings may provide help for further studies on liver injury caused by SARS‐CoV‐2.

Medicines for Europe update regarding medicines production and supply related to Covid-19
An update of the situation and priority areas for the continuous manufacturing and supply of medicines in Europe.

EFPIA: Europe’s COVID-19 battle: working together to ensure the supply of medicines to the patients that need them
European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations are focused on three key areas; the search for new vaccines, diagnostics and treatments to help in the fight against the COVID-19, supporting governments and health systems on the ground and ensuring the supply of medicines to the patients that need them.

March 17, 2020 update

European Council Conclusions on COVID-19
Members of the European Council held a videoconference on COVID-19 in order to follow up on previous conclusions of 10 March 2020 together with the ECB President, the President of the Eurogroup and the High Representative. They have identified four priorities.

2020 EU Health Award to help promote vaccination and healthy lifestyles
The European Commission is launching two calls under the 2020 EU Health Award:

WTO Statement 17 March 2020
WTO DG welcomes G7 leaders’ statement on COVID-19

Commission’s advisory panel on COVID-19
The European Commission launched an advisory panel on COVID-19 composed of epidemiologists and virologists from different Member States to formulate EU guidelines on science-based and coordinated risk management measures.

ECDC guidance for health system contingency planning
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control published guidance for health system contingency planning during widespread transmission of SARS-CoV-2 with high impact on healthcare services. The document aims to support public health preparedness planning and response activities when advising healthcare services on approaches on how to increase capacity for managing COVID-19 cases in the context of widespread sustained SARS-CoV-2 transmission in a particular community.

Greens/EFA group statement
Unprecedented EU response needed to avert worst of virus crisis.

European Left Statement
Collective and solidary solution for coronavirus crisis now!

EFPIA Statement
European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations: Europe’s COVID-19 battle. Supply, support and the search for diagnostics, vaccines, treatments and cure.

European Tourism Manifesto statement
European tourism sector demands urgent supportive measures to reduce devastating impact of COVID-19

EESC statement
Now, we are either a Union or we are nothing.

March 16, 2020 update

• Covid-19 Guidelines for border management measures to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and essential services
Council document C(2020) 1753

COVID-19: Temporary Restriction on Non-Essential Travel to the EU
Communication from the European Commission – COM(2020)115.

Coronavirus: Commission offers financing to innovative vaccines company CureVac
The European Commission offered up to €80 million of financial support to CureVac, a higly innovative vaccine developer from Tübingen, Germany, to scale up development and production of a vaccine against the Coronavirus in Europe.

Eurogroup statement on COVID-19 economic policy response
Solidarity and measures.

EMA – COVID-19: developers of medicines or vaccines to benefit from free scientific advice
EMA provides full fee waivers for scientific advice applications from developers of potential therapeutics (to treat the disease) or vaccines (to prevent the disease) against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) .

Covid-19 Guidelines for border management measures to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and essential services
The European Commission presented guidelines to Member States on health-related border management measures in the context of the COVID-19 emergency. The aim is to protect citizens’ health, ensure the right treatment of people who do have to travel, and make sure essential goods and services remain available.

Statement by European Parliament President David Sassoli on latest Commission COVID-19 response
Von der Leyen is right – governments must not act unilaterally. We need stronger EU coordination.

Priority question to the Commission by MEPs on Funds for scientific research into Covid-19
1. Why has the Commission only now decided to increase the amount spent on scientific research intended to develop a vaccine and treatment for Covid-19?
2. Will the announced amount be enough for treatment to be developed and produced in good time?

The Greens/EFA Group‘s an open letter to the Eurogroup
In the letter, the Group noted the urgent need to deliver a genuinely coordinated and common EU policy to respond to the new crisis, arguing that a common response would not only enhance the effects of the measures already agreed upon, but would ultimately ease the pressure that markets will start putting on individual Member States.

March 14, 2020 update

EPP Group press release
EPP was announcing it would propose urgency measures to deal with COVID-19. In particular, the group called for Europe to act united, to ensure the availability of medical supplies and devices, and for financial help to be made available to SMEs suffering in the crisis.

March 13, 2020 update

Statement by European Parliament President David Sassoli
He called for governments to not act unilaterally and for stronger EU coordination in relation to COVID-19 response.

Parliament mobilised to channel EU funds to those affected by Coronavirus pandemic
The Regional Development Committee is ready to find the most efficient way possible to allow the Corona Response Investment Initiative to be adopted and swiftly implemented.

Priority question for written answer to the Commission by in view of the coronavirus crisis, we should be looking to create a new consortium to find a vaccine
1. Does the Commission intend to establish a large consortium to find a vaccine for the Covid-19 virus?
2. Companies and researchers from all Member States must work together to avoid a duplication of efforts and to conduct speedy and effective research. To this end, when will the Commission launch a mission, following the example of the ‘Horizon Europe missions’, to support research into a vaccine for the virus?
3. Will the Commission be implementing a medium and long-term strategy so that Europe can react with strong measures to counter the economic and social consequences of this crisis? This strategy must take into consideration our value chains, particularly in the pharmaceutical sector, our industrial policy in strategic sectors and our dependence on certain supplies.

March 12, 2020 update

Joint Statement by President von der Leyen and President Michel on the U.S. travel ban
The Coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action. The EU disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation. The EU is taking strong action to limit the spread of the virus.

  1. Thanks a lot


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