Brussels, 15 April 2020 - The EU is working on a common exit strategy coordinated in timed phases. The roadmap traces a common path for the 27 members to follow when reopening and getting back to life in order to avoid a second wave of contagion.
So far the deadly SARS-COV2 made more than 126,700 victims; the figure is actually far higher as many are not counted, not just the homeless, those who died home and in care homes and those who died with complications by coronavirus, but also the uncounted and unknown deaths in Africa, India, Latin America, countries without a working healthcare system.
The pandemic revealed how in European countries public health systems are broken and only able to save lives thanks to the sacrifice of nurses and doctors coping with lack of ventilators and protection equipment.
But while covid continues to spread across Europe, as the economy faces a dangerous recession comparable to the 1929 one, we need to plan an exit strategy and since the infection does not know borders, we need to coordinate phases timely.
"The Commission’s immediate priority is fighting the virus and mitigating the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic. At the same time, we must start looking ahead so that Member States can gradually lift their containment measures, with a view to entering the recovery phase and revitalising our societies and economy", the document given to the press today reads.
The EU roadmap is a common plan to coordinate post-pandemic among 27 member state.
Borders: allow for the flow of essential workers and goods.
1. Internal border controls should be lifted in a coordinated manner. Travel restrictions should first be eased between identified low-risk areas. Neighbouring Member States should stay in close contact to facilitate this.
2. In a second phase, external borders would reopen access for non-EU residents, taking into account the spread of the coronavirus outside the EU. Restrictions to non-essential travel to the EU must be continuously reviewed.
Commission's president von der Leyen made clear, by the way, the roadmap does not mean countries can release lockdown now; it's a set of "criteria to help Member States decide when and in what order confinement measures can be gradually lifted, in a coordinated way".
The plan takes into account the expertise of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control the Commission’s Advisory Panel on the coronavirus, experience of member states and guidance from the World Health Organization. As this is scientific evidence based and the data in the virus we have so far, this will be updated as further evidence is found.
Timing and coordination are the key words:
Economy: activity should be phased in to ensure that authorities and businesses can adequately adjust to increasing activities in a safe way.
Work: population should not return to the workplace at the same time and social distancing should continue to apply. Teleworking should be encouraged. At the work place, occupational health and safety rules should be observed.
Social distancing: gatherings of people should progressively be permitted.
Prevention: efforts to prevent the spread of the virus should be sustained with campaigns to encourage the population to keep up the strong hygiene practices and social distancing. In order to monitor reopening and avoid risk of a strong resurgence and a return to strict containment measures the Commission suggests the creation of a framework for contact tracing and warning with the use of mobile apps, which respect data privacy.
Justine de Braeme
A phased roadmap: EU plans a common exit strategy
including contact tracing mobile apps