The Covid 19 crisis exposed the fragility of many political systems across the World. Many governments showed severe lack of preparedness for such wide scale emergency. Many countries around the world failed downright in tackling the crisis with robust early measures in the health system let alone related industrial infrastructure. The United States of America, the world superpower witnessed its health system cripple in countering the crisis. In Europe, we also witness a direful situation in Italy, Spain and the UK where victims of the virus where in the tens of thousands.
In a series of articles, I interview European politicians to get their perspective on the ongoing crisis. In this article I interview Ramona Strugari Member of the European Parliament for the Freedom, Unity and Solidarity Party and Vice Chair of Delegation to the EU-Moldova Parliamentary Association Committee. She is also Member of Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and member of Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly. She is also member of many other sub committees in the Parliament.
Do you think coronavirus has strengthened solidarity in the EU or it could tear it apart? What is your vision towards renewing Europe?
Yes, most definitely, this crisis strengthened the solidarity inside the EU. Through all the measures that were undertaken, all institutions and representatives showed that solidarity among the Member States is not an option, but a Treaty obligation and forms part of our European values. I would just highlight some of the measures taken during this crisis: doctors from Romania and paramedics from Poland went to Italy to help saving lives; ventilators from Germany were shipped to Spain and Italy to provide a lifeline; hospitals in Czechia and Germany treated the sick from France and Italy; Austria shipped 1,5 million masks and 3000 litres of disinfectant to Italy etc.
In this context, we need to move from the current setup of supporting states policies on health and to advance towards a new European health policy, one that combines exclusive competences with shared competences. Cross-border public health threats have grown in strength and in order to defend the health of European citizens, further integration in this sector is needed.
Furthermore, we need a bolder European Civil Protection Mechanism and we need to create a permanent EU Strategic Reserve. This should not be limited to the kind of equipment demanded by the current Coronavirus crisis but should also cover essential medicine and emergency equipment required to fight back during other emergencies like earthquakes or fires.
Concerning our economy, a comprehensive and ambitious EU response to the crisis and the post-crisis needs three components: a bold Multiannual Financial Framework which ensures fair resources for the increasingly challenges and expectations of our citizens towards the EU; the immediate launch of a short-term large scale investment plan and the issuing of joint risk and obligations mitigation tools along the lines of Recovery bonds or Sovereign bond-backed securities (SBBS) to be used for commonly agreed investment objectives; a long-term EU Recovery Plan that makes use of its key instruments such as the Reform (and Investment) Support Programme for post-crisis Member States economic relaunch.
What are the procedures that may be potentially taken by member states to deal with new immigrants despite the reality that Europe likely to face an economic crisis?
Unfortunately, we cannot know for the moment what these procedures will be, as the borders will probably remain closed for quite some time until we are able to enforce appropriate measures in order to ensure basic health rights to migrants. One thing I am certain of, is that we will do our best to protect the most vulnerable groups and people in vulnerable situations, including elderly people, people who are already suffering from poor health, populations in conflict-affected areas and migrants, and those that are exposed to domestic violence, especially women and children.
Using coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity, some governments, around the world, entrench repressive measures against freedom of expression. How do you see that?
The Coronavirus crisis is a massive test for democracies all over the world. Unfortunately, lately we have been counting more and more cases of governments failing this test. Responses to the COVID-19 epidemic in countries such as Hungary and Poland reveal how much their autocratic rulers love this pandemic and they are using this as a pretext to establish dictatorships in all but name, putting democracy in a lockdown.
Question 2, A:
What could be done to stop this?
Everyone must respect the guidelines and abide by the communications of the Council of Europe, and that equals to the fact that measures must stay proportionate, be scrutinised by national Parliaments and, most importantly, must remain temporary. Member States must not derogate from the European Convention on Human Rights precisely because the Convention is flexible enough to allow governments to take emergency measures and still stay within the boundaries of guaranteeing basic human rights.
Question 2, B:
What is your message to those governments?
My message would be that we are monitoring the exceptional measures taken by the Member States in response to the COVID crisis and we are closely communicating with the relevant actors in the Commission in order to find the best solutions to tackle the situation. We recently had a discussion with Commissioner Reynders on this topic and he ensured us that the Commission is closely monitoring measures taken by all national governments, assessing their compatibility with the values of the Union and the provisions of EU law, reassuring us that the Commission will not hesitate to go to Court if these exceptional measures violate EU law.
No states, not only Europeans, should use this crisis in order to adopt abusive measures that are against the rules on human rights.
Migrants workers are potentially vulnerable and in peril during corona pandemic. How does the EU intervene to ensure protection of their rights?
The EU follows closely the situation and is trying to improve the protection of human rights of migrants and to ensure the right to basic health, especially during the Covid 19 crisis. In the resolution adopted two weeks ago, the European Parliament encouraged the Member States to better coordinate social and fiscal legislation in order to avoid ramifications in terms of social security and fiscal systems for cross-border workers and labour migrants as a result of emergency measures. We also stressed out the important contribution of many migrants and their descendants who are working to ensure the proper functioning of many essential sectors across the EU, in particular in health and care sectors and the appropriate measures which needs to be taken in order to protect them.
In addition, in order to ensure that migrants are not overlooked in the response, the European Commission is working closely with civil society organisations, which are translating and communicating vital information to their communities. Authorities have also made efforts to communicate critical information in multiple languages.
By Sarhan Basem, exclusively for Newswire Now network.
Sarhan Basem Accredited Journalist to the European Commission and Member of the International Federations of Journalists( IFJ). He is also an international Journalist who reported from a number of war zones in the Middle East.
Views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Newswire now. Newswire now does not assume any responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, topicality or quality of the information provided.