US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Germany, France and other EU countries instructed the European Commission to develop a common plan to ease quarantine measures related to the coronavirus, but did not allow Ursula von der Leyen to publish it before Catholic Easter. As a result, European states did not want to wait for a common course to be agreed upon and embarked on individual initiatives that threatened to lead to chaos, writes the German newspaper Die Welt.
Berlin, Paris and other governments wanted the EU to agree on a common plan to lift quarantine measures and overcome the crisis, but now they obviously forgot about it, the German newspaper Die Welt writes. No one else wants to wait for a joint decision – everyone went about their own plans. In this regard, political circles and representatives of the economy warn of chaos threatening Europe.
“Panic and confusion – otherwise the initial reactions of some EU states to the coronavirus epidemic cannot be described,” emphasizes article author Tobias Kaiser. When the virus spread in Italy in early March, neighboring countries – some without announcement – closed the borders and caused the appearance of kilometer-long traffic jams at border crossings, where many had to wait their turn for days on end.
Stopping the export of masks and other medical equipment, which Germany and other states have hastily resorted to, now threatens the replenishment of the necessary supplies for doctors and medical staff in Italy and other European countries. Such chaos would not happen if the EU countries promised each other and gave the European Commission the task of developing a plan to get out of the freedom-restricting measures that are now operating throughout Europe, the publication says.
On Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented key guidelines that should prevent the turmoil from the onset of the crisis. Her plan provides for closer coordination of actions within the EU and a slow and gradual launch of the economy and the restoration of public life, and also recommends that 27 EU countries jointly define criteria for easing restrictions.
However, a collective approach in Europe is not visible even in the long term, the German newspaper notes. Some capitals, which initially commissioned von der Leyen to start developing the plan, are apparently no longer interested in the authorities’ recommendations in Brussels. National governments certainly do not want to wait for the publication of the document: instead, they have already begun to weaken quarantine measures, the journalist emphasizes.
For example, Austria after Easter allowed building markets, flower tents and small shops to open. The government of Prague at the beginning of the week presented a plan to ease quarantine measures in the Czech Republic, listing in detail when weddings will be allowed again (April 20), markets on market day (April 20), visits to fitness clubs (May 11) and piercing salons (8 June). In Denmark, kindergartens and elementary schools opened on Wednesday.
All this shows how divided the EU is in terms of weakening quarantine measures in connection with the crisis with the coronavirus, the author of the article believes. Thus, the French government announced that public life would remain in a frozen state until May 11. Spain also recently extended the emergency for another two weeks. The Belgian government plans to do the same. The German government also announced Wednesday its quarantine mitigation strategy.
The key points of the plan are gradually seeping – shortly after von der Leyen presented her project in Brussels. It is particularly striking that national governments do not want to wait for the plan of the European Commission, because the heads of EU countries and governments themselves documented on paper that they gave the relevant commission to the European Commission.
In fact, von der Leyen wanted to present her plan before Catholic Easter, but some national governments intervened and said that the time was not right and it was too early to talk about easing quarantine measures before Easter. First of all, in Rome it was considered that thereby politicians gave the wrong sign. Von der Leyen reacted and postponed the publication of the plan. In the end, she could only watch in bewilderment as the EU countries in the days that followed led discussions about the weakening of quarantine measures, writes Die Welt.
The forward-looking initiatives of some countries have been criticized in Brussels. “Until now, the effectiveness of member countries in coordination matters is extremely poor, if not shameful, ” said CDU MP in the European Parliament Markus Ferber. – At the beginning of the crisis, it was probably still possible to somehow understand, but today, for anybody, there is no longer an excuse that they were taken by surprise. The operating principles of national governments must change significantly.”
The chairman of the green faction in the European Parliament, Ska Keller, also makes the same demand: “EU governments should not compete with each other, but agree with each other and with the European Commission. The split does not help anyone.”
Representatives of the economy also insist on more carefully coordinated actions. The German Industrial Association BDI warns against individual national initiatives – not only to prevent a new outbreak of the pandemic and protect public health, but also to avoid the collapse of supply and production chains in Europe due to closed borders.
According to the publication, the European Commission is aware of these dangers, like no other. “The virus knows no bounds,” von der Leyen warned when she presented her plan. However, she emphasized the responsibility of national governments in informing each other about the tightening and weakening of quarantine measures.
According to von der Leyen, “if the EU countries begin to do it slowly, step by step, it is extremely important that they inform the European Commission and neighboring states so that the weakening does not cause undesirable effects.” For example, a dangerous situation arises when shops open on one side of the border because it attracts people from a neighboring country, where the shops are still closed. “Good neighbors talk to each other,” Ursula von der Leyen cites a warning from Die Welt.
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