MoS McEntee statement on EU Matters
Statement06 May 2020
In his Statement, the Taoiseach set out the wide range of measures already taken or under development at EU level to protect citizens and businesses during the current crisis.
As at home, the focus has rightly been on protecting life and health in the first instance, as well as on working to mitigate economic damage and to chart a path to recovery.
Leaders have also rightly recognised that, for the fight against Covid to be successful, it has to have a global reach and the EU has an important leadership role to play. We saw this in action on Monday when the EU took the lead in hosting a pledging conference in which €7.4 billion was pledged in support of the search for a vaccine, medicines and for tests.
This is something that Ireland strongly supports and, as the House will be aware, the Taoiseach, on behalf of the Irish people announced a new pledge of €18 million euro to GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance.
This will be paid over the course of the next five years, so that the poorest countries in the world will have access to the COVID-19 vaccine, if and when it is developed.
That funding adds to the €60 million euro which Ireland has committed previously in direct or repurposed grants, enabling our UN and other partners to respond rapidly to the situation on the ground. As part of that, Ireland quadrupled our contribution to the World Health Organisation, to €9.5 million euros
Until there are effective diagnostics, treatments and a vaccine universally available, every region and every country remains vulnerable to a new or renewed surge of the pandemic.
On 8 April Development Ministers endorsed the ‘Team Europe’ global response to Covid-19 with €15.6 billion mobilised by the Commission and the EIB and over €4 billion by Member States, targeting fragile and vulnerable countries.
Such countries are facing enormous health and economic challenges as a result of the pandemic. The Team Europe collective approach is designed to provide a fast response on the ground where it is needed most, supporting health systems and helping to alleviate the socio-economic impacts of Covid-19.
Later today the Taoiseach will take part by video conference in a Summit of EU and Western Balkan Leaders. A key focus of that Summit will be cooperation and support between the EU and the region throughout the crisis to date. On 29 April, the European Commission announced over €3.3 billion of EU financial support mobilised jointly with the European Investment Bank to the benefit of the Western Balkans' citizens.
We have seen from the beginning of this crisis that the virus does not respect borders, and does not recognise countries. To beat this virus and to forge our recovery we, as Ireland, and as EU, will need to think and act globally. This week the EU took a significant step in this regard and Ireland has made clear that we are willing and ready to play our role with EU partners in the global fight against Covid-19.