All EU citizens must have equal protection regardless of where they are
Split/Brussels, 26th March 2020
Member of the European Parliament Željana Zovko participated today in the extraordinary plenary session via a videoconference call from Split. The Parliament convened in the videoconference due to security reasons to discuss the three proposals of the Commission on urgent assistance to the member-states in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. Majority of the members voted in favour of the proposals, showing once again unison and solidarity of the European Union in responding to common challenges. Zovko supported all the proposals of the Commission. She pointed out that decisions taken at this special session came just in right time, especially for the Republic of Croatia, faced with managing two huge crises simultaneously.
The proposals of the Commission, accepted today at the plenary session, are the key to mitigation of the consequences of this health and humanitarian crisis that struck the Republic of Croatia and the City of Zagreb. Through the Coronavirus Response initiative, we will activate the so-far unused and so much needed resources from the existing European funds with the purpose to relieve the pressure on the economy and health-care systems of the member-states affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. According to the Commission estimation, Croatia will be able to use ca. EUR 1.158 billion out of the total EUR 37 billion in its attempts to mitigate effects of the Coronavirus crisis.
As a rapporteur for the Opinion, Zovko was in the last term actively involved in the process of advancing the European Civil Protection Mechanism. Therefore, she particularly commended the Commission decision on creating a strategic stockpile of medical equipment.
I strongly support a prompt response of the Commission and its decision to create a strategic stockpile of medical equipment and to co-finance 90% of the reserves of the member- states in their response to the Coronavirus outbreak. The main purpose of the RescEU instrument is to offer equal protection to each and every citizen of the European Union regardless of where they are.
Furthermore, Zovko supported the proposal to expand the scope of the European Solidarity Fund (EUSF) beyond natural or manmade disasters only.
With the European Solidarity Fund expanded to cover public health crises, we will be able to activate its resources in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic, and improve preparedness and speed up the response in the future. I especially welcome the increase of the total level of appropriations for EUSF advances from current EUR 50 million to EUR 100 million. This will enable smoother inflow of preliminary EUSF funds to the countries affected by natural disasters. With this measure, Zagreb will have better access to preliminary financial assistance needed for a more efficient recovery from the last week earthquake.
As a rapporteur for the financial instrument IPA III, Zovko invited the Commission to continue supporting the Western Balkans countries in their fight against the Coronavirus, which knows no borders.
I welcome the Union decision to approve EUR 28 million to Bosnia and Herzegovina for the health-care system and additional EUR 40 million for supporting the country’s economy in the response to the Coronavirus crisis, announced by the Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi. In order to secure health security and stability on its own borders, the European Union must help the Western Balkans and its neighbourhood in these challenging times, in the process of mitigating the effects of the Coronavirus crisis.