Video conference of the members of the European Council, 26 March 2020

Author (Corporate)
Publication Date 26/03/2020
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Members of the European Council held a video conference on 26 March 2020. Media sources reported on the tense discussion between some Member States over the issuing of so-called 'coronabonds' to finance the economic response to the COVID-19 outbreak crisis.

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National leaders agree to work along five strands when it comes to the response to the COVID-19 outbreak;

  • Limiting the spread of the virus;
  • Providing medical equipment;
  • Promoting research;
  • Tackling socio-economic consequences;
  • Helping citizens stranded in third countries.

The European Council agreed to ensure smooth border management for persons and goods, and to counter disinformation with transparent, timely and fact-based communication on their actions. Leaders asked the European Commission to explore way to speed up procedures concerning joint procurement initiatives for personal protective equipment, ventilators and testing supplies. The European Council welcomed the initiatives to provide financial support for the clinical and public health response to the coronavirus.

Leaders also supported the action taken by the European Central Bank (ECB) to ensure supporting financing conditions in the Eurozone. They took note of the progress made by the Eurogroup when it comes to a response to the socio-economic impact of the sanitary crisis and invited the body to present proposals shortly. The European Council highlighted that Member States had already taken action to support their economies and alleviate social and employment problems, adding that they needed flexibility. The measures adopted by the European Commission to address that need were welcomed.

The European Council agreed that the European Union (EU) should start to prepare the measures necessary to get back to a normal functioning of societies and economies. Leaders detected the need for a coordinated exit strategy, a comprehensive recovery plan and investment. They invited EU leaders to start work on a Roadmap accompanied by an Action Plan.

National leaders also endorsed the conclusions adopted by the Council of the European Union on enlargement and stabilisation and association process. Finally, they expressed their concerns over the situation at the Greek-Turkish border, and expressed solidarity with those Member States directly affected by the situation.

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Commentary and Analysis
EFPIA: Press Release, 27/03/2020: Europe’s fight against COVID-19: EFPIA welcomes last night’s Statement of the Members of the European Council
The Irish Times, 28/03/2020: ‘Coronabonds’ row could endanger the European project
Bloomberg, 30/03/2020: Coronabonds Are Inevitable. Everybody Knows It
EPRS: Briefing, March 2020: Outcome of European Council video-conference of 26 March 2020
Politico, 30/03/2020: Dutch face friendly fire as corona bond bad cops
Euro|topics, March-April 2020: At odds over corona bonds
Vox Europ, 07/04/2020: Eurobonds can wait – for now

Politico, 25/03/2020: Michel: EU leaders to consider ‘Marshall Plan’ for Europe
EUObserver, 26/03/2020: EU leaders at odds on virus-hit economy
Politico, 27/03/2020: Virtual summit, real acrimony: EU leaders clash over ‘corona bonds’
EurActiv, 27/03/2020: EU leaders back ‘green transition’ in pandemic recovery plan
EurActiv, 27/03/2020: Leaders clash over stimulus against pandemic, pass hot potato to Eurogroup
France24, 27/03/2020: EU leaders at loggerheads over economic response to coronavirus
EUObserver, 27/03/2020: EU heads struggle to find joint virus response
ANSA, 27/03/2020: Italy irked after EU rejects coronabonds
Politico, 27/03/2020: Dutch try to calm north-south economic storm over coronavirus
Politico, 29/03/2020: Von der Leyen brands corona bonds a ‘slogan,’ setting off firestorm in Italy
Politico, 31/03/2020: Dutch finance minister acknowledges lack of empathy on corona bonds

European Council: Joint statement of the members of the European Council, 26 March 2020
European Council: Remarks by President Charles Michel after the video conference of the members of the European Council on COVID-19 (26 March 2020)
Finnish Prime Minister's Office: Press Release, 26/03/2020: European Council on the COVID-19 pandemic: 'EU protects its citizens'
European Commission: Statement by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Michel, following the EU Leaders' videoconference on COVID-19 of 26 March

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