Today, President Ursula von der Leyen gave a speech at the European Parliament plenary session on the EU’s coordinated action to fight the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences. The President honoured the memory of the tens of thousands of Europeans who have lost their lives.
Their stories are strengthening our determination to do everything in our power to save lives. President von der Leyen expressed “a heartfelt apology” to Italy on behalf of Europe for not being at the country’s side from the very beginning of the crisis.
However, the many examples of European cooperation of the past weeks – with doctors, medical equipment and patients moved across borders – have shown that “Europe has now become the world’s beating heart of solidarity”. Reviewing the unprecedented measures taken by the EU to protect people’s livelihoods, the President highlighted that “Europe has done more in the last four weeks than it did in the first four years of the last crisis”.
Looking ahead, President von der Leyen said that it was the moment “to put behind us the old divisions, disputes and recriminations. The moment to be ready for that new world. To use all the power of our common spirit and the strength of our shared purpose. The starting point for this must be making our economies, societies and way of life more sustainable and resilient.”
Calling on Europe to stand together with courage, trust and solidarity through this crisis and beyond, the President charted the path towards recovery: “We will need massive investment to jumpstart our economies. We need a Marshall Plan for Europe’s recovery and it needs to be put in place immediately. There is only one instrument we have that is trusted by all Member States, which is already in place and can deliver quickly.
It is transparent and it is time tested as an instrument for cohesion, convergence and investment. And that instrument is the European budget. The European budget will be the mothership of our recovery.”
Finally, the President emphasised the need to keep investing in the European Green Deal, and to ensure the economic recovery is built on cohesion and convergence to help those countries and regions most hit by the crisis. The speech is available online in all languages here. You will find more information on the Commission’s response to the coronavirus crisis on the dedicated webpage.
Eric Mamer – Dana Spinant – photo EU