Brussels, March 27 (IANS) The European Union (EU) has pledged close cooperation in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, vowing to address issues ranging from medical supplies to internal market.
Leaders of the EU and its member states issued a joint statement on Thursday after a video conference, recognizing the most acute priority as “ensuring urgent and adequate provision of medical equipment throughout the European Union”, Xinhua reported.
The European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, is asked to explore ways to speed up the EU's joint procurement initiatives for personal protective equipment, ventilators and testing supplies.
The statement also recognizes increasing testing capacities as a matter of urgency, based on recommendations from the World Health Organization.
A coordinated temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU has been in place, and the statement said it will be reviewed “in due time” to “decide and decide whether or not to prolong these measures.”
Certain EU member states have introduced temporary internal border controls, and the statement said the bloc will urgently address current problems at internal border controls, including concerning people as well as goods and essential services by land, sea or air.
The EU will do everything possible to support research, coordinate efforts within Europe on COVID-19, including on vaccines, and also work together with key partners in the Group of Seven and Group of 20 countries, the statement said, adding the bloc will also increase and accelerate its support to European researchers to share scientific information and to collaborate both within the EU and worldwide.
The leaders also acknowledged the significant socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and back the policies from the European Central Bank, the Eurogroup, and member states to support the economy and society.
The statement added that more efforts will be made to ensure that EU citizens stranded in third countries who want to go home can do so.
The leaders also backed the opening of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, according to the statement.