Brexit, climate protection, Turkey – the EU summit launched on Thursday should have taken care of, but one topic in particular dominated the events on the first day: The Coronavirus Pandemic is currently occupying the member states enormously, the numbers are rising significantly everywhere. The fact that the situation is serious and is spreading throughout the EU was made symbolically clear right from the start.
The debate on the corona virus took up most of the first day of the summit. The EU heads of state and government exchanged views on the situation in their countries. Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) said after the first day that it had become “very quickly apparent” that the situation was “the same in all European countries”. “All countries are talking about the fact that we are in the middle of the second wave”, said Kurz.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the member states had agreed to “exchange information regularly via video conferences”. They had discussed how the chains of infection could still be traced in view of the sharp rise in infection and who, for example, should be sent into quarantine. “This is a very big challenge,” said Merkel.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz: “Preventing a second lockdown”.
“Everyone is experiencing the same trend,” said Kurz. According to him, the pandemic was “the most extensively discussed topic” among the heads of state and government on the first day of the summit. Kurz stressed that everyone wanted to “prevent a second lockdown”. But this could only succeed “if the countries that are now particularly affected also react and the population also supports these measures”.
“The question of how we get out of this pandemic now,” she said, “will decide how many people have to die – “and it will also determine our economic performance,” Merkel said. It is “very clear to everyone that each of us must work very hard with our governments to tackle this issue”. It must be ensured that there is “no unchecked growth” in the number of infections.
Von der Leyen had to leave Gipfel
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said right at the beginning of the summit that better coordination was needed within the EU. The situation was becoming increasingly worrying. The EU states had agreed on a European traffic light map this week. In addition, however, there should also be an agreement on the length of a quarantine and on the necessity of tests, von der Leyen said.
Only half an hour later, von der Leyen herself moved into the center of attention: She had to leave the summit suddenly because an employee from her office tested positive. “I have just been informed that a member of my office tested positive for Covid-19 this morning,” von der Leyen wrote on Twitter. Although her own test result was negative, she said that as a “safety measure” she left the summit immediately and is now in quarantine.
“Have to adapt to Covid-19”
There has been criticism that the summit is taking place at all. Because of the current situation, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen would have preferred the summit to be held online instead of in Brussels. It would have been more appropriate to hold a videoconference due to the increasing number of infections throughout Europe, Frederiksen said. Poland’s head of government, Mateusz Morawiecki, is not even attending – he is also in quarantine.
— Hector pascua, Source: orf.at/agencies. Picture: stockilyapp.com
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