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Europe's international responsibility during the COVID-19 pandemic

Germany's Presidency wants the EU to take an active role in supporting global health initiatives., © Nicolas Remene/picture alliance

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The coronavirus pandemic is challenging the EU to prove its ability to act as a strong and capable global partner like never before. This calls for more European unity, solidarity and resilience, with member states working together for a strong EU that promotes peace and security.

Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU recognises that the coronavirus can only be defeated through close cooperation and coordination with Europe’s international partner and all relevant international partners and actors.

For this reason, Germany wholeheartedly supports the “Team Europe” initiative: A €36-billion (as of 8th of June 2020) commitment from all EU institutions and member states to support particularly vulnerable partner countries against the coronavirus pandemic.

Within the context of the “Team Europe” initiative, Germany’s Presidency will seek to:

  • Strongly advocate for the strategic, effective and transparent implementation of the initiative
  • Ensure that Europe’s commitment integrates the entire spectrum of crisis-related consequences and brings together all relevant actors

Europe’s responsibility to the world

Germany’s Presidency also wants the EU to take a more active role in supporting and developing global public health initiatives. This process calls for strengthening the EU’s sovereignty as well as those multinational organisations with which it works. As such, Germany’s Presidency advocates for:

  • Strengthening multilateral organisations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations, as well as global platforms that bring policymakers together with members of the economy and civil society
  • Ensuring that any policy limitations associated with the coronavirus pandemic do not impact humanitarian aid distributed by the EU or its member states
  • Paying special attention to how the EU can optimise its external crisis-response within the context of the pandemic and beyond it

Those affected by armed conflict, migration, displacement or natural disaster face difficult living situations, malnutrition, and are at a greater risk of illness. The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated how such factors affect vulnerable populations.

This underscores the importance of continuing the EU’s missions to act as a stablising force in the world’s most unstable regions, especially within the healthcare field. As such, Germany’s Presidency advocates for:

  • Coordinating approaches to secure fair access and transparent distribution of COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines and therapies, in line with epidemiological criteria
  • Strengthening the WHO in the expansion of its platform to accelerate nations’ access to COVID-19 tools (ACT)
  • Ensuring a more coordinated approach of all health actors with particular attention for the SDG-3 Action Plan

Based on its successful ‘integrated approach’, the EU will support governments and public actors in those regions outside Europe where the pandemic proves to be a destabilising factor. This means addressing all aspects of the crisis, especially humanitarian, healthcare, socio-economic, as well as internal and external security, in order to improve the overall resilience of countries that are severely affected by the fallout of the virus.

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