Announcing today European measures to counter the economic impact of the Coronavirus, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would do whatever was necessary to support the Europeans and the European economy. “I am convinced that the European Union can withstand this shock. But each Member State needs to live up to its full responsibility. And the EU as a whole needs to be determined, coordinated and united,” she said at the joint press conference with Executive Vice-Presidents Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovskis.
“Every Member State, all of us, have to know and to understand that it is not possible to stop the virus, but it is possible and of utmost importance to slow down the spread of the virus. That is doable”, von der Leyen said.
She reiterated that the Coronavirus pandemic was an unprecedented challenge for our health care systems, but also ‘a major shock for our economies’.
Preserving the integrity of the single market is one of the measures the Commission is taking to ensure the necessary supplies to our health systems. “The single market has to function,” von der Leyen said, cautioning against unilateral actions. “For any measures to be effective, they need to be coordinated at EU level. Member States, especially neighbouring ones, need to work very closely together. In this way – and it is the only way – we can make sure that our citizens receive the health care that they need immediately, wherever they are at the moment,” von der Leyen said.
She equally called for decisive and bold action to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on the European economy. “We must work together to ensure that [this shock] is as short and as limited as possible, and that it does not create permanent damage to our economies”, she explained while encouraging Member States to take all the necessary measures to support the most affected sectors – for example tourism, transport or retail.
For this to happen, that is giving the Member States reassurance, the EU is providing maximum flexibility – flexibility on state aid and flexibility within the Stability and Growth Pact.
Among a set of measures, President von der Leyen also announced setting up of a Corona Response Investment Initiative to grant support to the healthcare sector, to the labour market and to support SMEs from all affected sectors.
“This is an important economic package. But we have to acknowledge that the situation is evolving very fast. We stand ready to do more as the situation evolves,” she concluded.