Ministerial Committee on EU Affairs discusses Union-wide COVID-19 measures
At its meeting on Wednesday 25 March, the Ministerial Committee on EU Affairs discussed issues related to managing the coronavirus situation, which will be on the agenda at the videoconference of European Council members on Thursday 26 March. The five themes to be discussed by the EU leaders in their videoconference are: curbing the spread of the epidemic, ensuring the availability of medicines and medical supplies, developing a vaccine, repatriating EU citizens from third countries and mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic.
Finland and the majority of other EU countries have imposed restrictions at their internal and external borders in order to curb the spread of the disease. EU-wide cooperation based on the Commission’s recommendations aims to ensure that all freight – especially food, medicines and other essential goods – can reach its destination quickly even during this exceptional situation. As far as air transport is concerned, the “slot” regulation is being amended so that airlines will not lose their departure and arrival slots, even if the flights are not currently operating.
The EU leaders are continuing their discussion on ensuring access to medicines and medical supplies. The Commission has launched joint procurement for the EU Member States, and Finland will join without delay.
Member States have asked the Commission to coordinate the development of vaccines and medicines in order to increase synergy and ensure sufficient funding.
The Member States are continuing their cooperation in repatriating EU citizens from countries outside the EU. The aim is to ensure, for instance, that airlines are able to fly to countries outside the EU so that citizens can return home. Citizens of other EU countries have also been offered seats on national flights, and some EU countries have activated the civil protection mechanism enabling joint European repatriation flights from third countries to be carried out through co-financing.
The Union is taking measures to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic and support employment. The Ministerial Committee on EU Affairs also discussed the economic situation and financial stability issues in the EU, along with the measures already decided and proposed by the Commission and the ECB, such as investments, temporary easing of the Stability and Growth Pact and increased flexibility of state aid rules.
The Ministerial Committee also noted that the official ministerial meetings of the Council of the European Union are cancelled for one month. In order for the EU to continue to operate effectively, the ministers will hold informal videoconferences and the necessary Council conclusions will be adopted by written procedure.
Inquiries: Jari Luoto, State Under-Secretary for European Affairs, tel. +358 50 468 5949, Matti Niemi, Special Adviser (EU Affairs) tel. +358 45 679 1717, Kare Halonen, State Secretary for EU Affairs, tel. +358 295 160 319, Anne Sjöholm, Head of Communications for EU Affairs, tel. +358 40 537 0733, Prime Minister’s Office