Today, following the Council meeting on COVID-19, Dacian CIOLOȘ, President of Renew Europe, had a phone conversation with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to exchange views on the European response and coordination to cope with the health and economic aspects of this global crisis. In light of continuing developments, Dacian CIOLOȘ called for further initiatives and European solidarity, to save lives and mitigate the social and economic consequences of the COVID - 19 outbreak:
"Renew Europe wants a strong and comprehensive European response to this crisis. Viruses do not have borders. To protect the health of our citizens and help our economy to strive and rebound, the EU must lead and coordinate the response closely with Members States. Despite the containment measures taken by the European Parliament, my Group is ready to take necessary steps for fast track decisions if and when needed.
Yesterday's meeting is a first step. I welcome the initiative of Charles Michel, to bring EU leaders together to discuss a European response and the announcement by the President of the European Commission of a Corona Investment fund. But we need to go further and build a truly European action plan to respond to this crisis with short, medium and long term planning. We are stronger together : every single citizen across Europe will benefit directly from the EU coordination we are calling for".
On health aspects:
"Governments and EU institutions should put the most vulnerable groups at the heart of their health strategies, including by providing tailored and well-coordinated containment measures at local, regional, Members State and EU level to avoid a scenario that would put our health systems across Europe under unsustainable tensions. Ex-ante coordination of EU and national health authorities is absolutely key as well as joint procurement of protective equipment and solidarity in the distribution of medical equipment across the European Union, as required. We should spare no efforts to find a vaccine and treatments, mobilising our research and innovation capacities, and using the leverage capacity of horizon 2020 programmes. In addition, we must be vigilant to provide citizens with accurate and clear information. The EU has a role to play to identify and tackle conspiracy theories and incorrect information spread online relating to COVID-19. In the longer term, EU sovereignty should be strengthened with regard to the production of drugs and strategic health equipment, as appropriate".
On economic aspects:
"Our Union must act with ambition, stepping up to the response to ensure this shock does not turn into a deep recession. We welcome the European Commission’s willingness to help Italy by granting temporary flexibility, given the unusual events outside the control of governments, and the proposition of a Corona Investment fund, mobilising current cohesion funds. But we should go further. The EU budget must be mobilised in the fullest. That means channelling part of existing funds towards research into the virus and support vulnerable businesses, but also using the margins left in the EU budget. In the meantime, the Council should reconsider its approach to the negotiation of the next MFF. We must not put our Union in a position to choose which crisis it copes with – this is simply not acceptable for Renew. Today, we have a geopolitical crisis as well as a health crisis. The next MFF should provide the means to cope with both. In the very short term, all EU and national instruments should be mobilised to shore up businesses and self-employed workers in need. At national level that means for example offering tax incentives and tax cuts to businesses, as well as postponing VAT payments and social security contributions. At the European level, the European Investment Bank and the European Central Bank must be called upon to provide, within their respective mandates, emergency liquidity provisions and to mobilise much-needed extra funding. The EU response should be stepped up to prevent a cycle of job destruction".