We demand that the National Ministers of Health and their governments across the European Union immediately coordinate their response to the COVID19 health emergency. In particular, we ask them to adopt common strategies to contain the spreading of the virus; develop common protocols concerning testing, containment, social distancing; support medical research on effective vaccines and medications; and be ready to counter the massive socio-economic consequences of the emergency.
COVID19 has no borders. If Italy, Spain and France are among the most affected countries, the virus is spreading fast. No country can get out of this emergency alone.
However, there is no common strategy to contain such a health emergency. Italian, Spanish, French are confined to their homes and limited in the exercise of their personal freedoms in an attempt at saving lives. As time passes, many more will soon find themselves affected in this unprecedented compression of personal freedom in liberal democracies.
This the closest experience to war ever lived by the vast majority of us, European citizens. While there are no bombs, thousands of citizens in intensive care are victims and health professionals are under the enormous pressure of long shifts and the fear of falling ill.
Many wonder: what is the European Union actually doing?
To blame the European Union is easy, but it doesn’t get us anywhere. The European Institutions cannot close schools, cancel football games or lockdown our cities. They are not entitled to. However, given the emergency situation we all find ourselves in, we can no longer limit ourselves to saying that the EU has no competence in health matters and, therefore, cannot act.
If the European Union cannot act alone, nothing forbids the Health Ministers of all EU Member States to pool their sovereign emergency powers. They could start coordinating their health response, by taking a common line on testing, containment, quarantine, social distancing and research on potential vaccines and medications.
It would be a key step forward, not only for the efficacy of the measures taken but also for the acceptability of measures that often foresee the extreme limitation of our personal freedoms to reduce the risk of contagion and protect the health of every and each European citizen.
In the absence of a European coordination, we see unilateral actions, like the decision of Germany to close its borders. Although border restrictions do not entail any major health gain – but rather slow the free movement of workers and good needed in an emergency –, they respond to the inability of the Union and its member states to devise a coordinated action preventing those cross-border movements from happening. A EU-wide coordinated health response to COVID19 would render border controls unnecessary.
Join us in asking the EU 27 Health Ministers to exercise together their emergency sovereign powers, so as to closely coordinate their sanitary response, adopt common positions on testing, containments, quarantine, social distancing and medical research. Once the emergency will be over, we ask our national political leaders to pursue a transnational approach as the only one capable of dealing with viruses that do not know borders. It is high time to permanently entrust the European Union with real competences in the field of public health, especially in emergency situations.
Together we can be heard. Sign the petition!