The call for more support for the business world comes as the body that represents the European business community has warned of a “massive downturn.”
BusinessEurope, based in Brussels, issued a statement on Monday saying that it “fully supports” the measures taken so far and calls on the European Commission, the Council and the European Central Bank to “do whatever it takes to make sure that as many businesses as possible survive the crisis.”
It says such action is also needed to “help rebuild our economy and protect our European way of life once the health crisis caused by COVID19 is overcome.”
Markus J. Beyrer, Director General of BusinessEurope, noted, “We support the measures necessary to contain the further spreading of COVID19. Public health is the first priority. Our sympathies are with the families already affected. We express our gratitude to the workers and businesses who are showing exceptional courage and resilience, both to treat the sick, and to maintain the vital goods and services we all depend upon.”
He added, “This crisis is not only a major challenge for public health but will also have substantial negative impact on EU growth in 2020, with the likelihood of a large number of EU Member States experiencing a significant or in some cases even massive downturn.”
“Workers and companies, especially SMEs, are already suffering dramatically from the necessary restrictive measures which have been put in place.”
Beyrer said, “Protecting our society will require extraordinary responsibility, action and solidarity from all parties.”
“Workers and companies, especially SMEs, are already suffering dramatically from the necessary restrictive measures which have been put in place” Markus J. Beyrer, BusinessEurope Director General
On Monday, the Commission presented fresh guidelines to Member States on “health-related border management.”
The aim, it said, is to “protect citizens’ health, ensure the right treatment of people who do have to travel, and make sure essential goods and services remain available.”
Commenting on this, the executive’s President Ursula von der Leyen said, “Our measures to contain the Coronavirus outbreak will be effective only if we coordinate on the European level.”
She went on, “We have to take exceptional measures to protect the health of our citizens. But let’s make sure goods and essential services continue to flow in our internal market. This is the only way to prevent shortages of medical equipment or food.
“It’s not only an economic issue; our single market is a key instrument of European solidarity. I am in discussion with all Member States so that we confront this challenge together, as a Union.”
The guidelines state that people identified as at risk of spreading COVID-19 should have access to appropriate health care, either in the country of arrival or in the country of departure, and this should be coordinated between the two.
The Commission insists that free circulation of goods is also crucial to maintain availability of goods, adding, “this is particularly crucial for essential goods such as food supplies including livestock, vital medical and protective equipment and supplies.”
“We have to take exceptional measures to protect the health of our citizens. But let’s make sure goods and essential services continue to flow in our internal market. This is the only way to prevent shortages of medical equipment or food” Ursula von der Leyen
“More generally, control measures should not cause serious disruption of supply chains, essential services of general interest and of national economies and the EU economy as a whole.”
Meanwhile, Spanish Socialist deputy Juan Fernando López Aguilar, who chairs Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee, has express concern about the reintroduction of border controls at some Schengen internal borders due to coronavirus.
“In the last days, several EU Member States have reintroduced border controls at their internal borders within the Schengen area or even closed them for certain categories of travellers while some further Member States are considering such measures,” the MEP noted.
“As Committee Chair, while I fully share the need for public policy measures restricting social interaction to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus, I urge Member States to take their measures in full respect of the principles of proportionality and, above all, solidarity among all Member States, non-discrimination and the applicable Schengen rules. It is key that when taking measures, no discrimination is made between EU citizens.”
“It is only through a coordinated approach, rather than actions taken by individual Member States, that we will be successful in addressing the challenge we are all facing.”
The Civil Liberties Committee is, he said, closely monitoring the situation and “expects the Commission, the Council Presidency and the Member States to protect all benefits of the Schengen area.”