Ratas attends European Union leaders meeting by video conference ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas took part in a video conference of European Union member state leaders on Tuesday evening and discussed the effects of coronavirus (COVID-19), how best to stop the outbreak, exchange information and the resulting economic impact.

The meeting was also attended Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Ministers attended the meeting by video link because the European Parliament has suspended the majority of physical meetings to limit the spread of coronavirus until March 23. Usually, heads of states fly to Brussels from across the European Union.

At the teleconference, Ratas (Center) emphasized the importance of cooperation and commended the European Commission for its swift action and support to jointly tackle cross-border health threats. 

"It is vital that Member States work together to protect the health of their citizens. There is also a need to improve the availability of personal protective equipment and its common coordination," he said.

Discussing the impact on the economy, Ratas said: "It is important that the temporary crisis does not become a widespread downturn. For this, it is important that areas heavily affected by the virus are able to revitalize the economy and respond flexibly when needed."

On Tuesday, the European Parliament adopted a revised calendar following the precautionary measures taken to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The aim is to enable Parliament to exercise its core functions, such as legislative and budgetary powers, as well as plenary sessions and meetings of governing bodies of the institution, while complying with the duty of care for its members and staff and with a view to protect public health.

The European Parliament will also hold its April plenary meeting in Brussels rather than Strasbourg to limit travel. All committee meetings next week have been canceled.

European Parliament President David Sassoli said on Tuesday he would work from home for two weeks after having visited Italy at the weekend.

He said in a statement: "COVID-19 obliges everyone to be responsible and to be cautious. It is a delicate moment for all of us.

"Parliament will continue to work to exercise its duties. No virus can block democracy."

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Editor: Helen Wright

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