The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has strongly supported the enlargement of the European Union to the six Western Balkans countries provided they fulfil all the necessary criteria for membership. In the aftermath of the Council's non-decision to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia in October 2019, we have reacted swiftly by adopting, on 31 October, a Resolution expressing our profound disappointment by the lack of unanimity from the Member States. The EESC has since been committed to working closely and intensively with the civil society in the Western Balkans to support and reassure them that their place is in the European Union.
In less than 15 days, the EU has taken ground-breaking decisions to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and after some initial hesitation it has proven that Member States can simply not do without a coherent, coordinated approach in front of a global pandemic.
If today, we are afraid of falling ill, losing our loved ones, our jobs, and our individual freedoms, we should not lose sight of those who are living in refugee camps, in and outside Europe.
Following the EESC declaration "COVID-19: Now, we are either a Union or we are nothing", adopted by the Bureau on March 17, 2020, President Luca Jahier has urged today all institutions, authorities, regulators, both at European or national level, to take urgent and decisive actions to contain and fight against the pandemic and address the risks of a long-term shock for the economy and people's wellbeing.
Covid-19 obliges everyone to show full responsibility and caution. It is a delicate moment for everyone. However, it is necessary to continue to ensure the proper functioning of all the institutions and the EESC will do its part, continuing to work also using other working methods, in order to fulfil its functions.
EESC President Luca Jahier has met today the newly appointed Greek Minister for Migration and Asylum Panagiotis Mitarachi, as part of the visit to Athens of the EESC's permanent study group on Immigration and Integration (IMI).
We must not shy away from our responsibility as Europeans and do the utmost to raise awareness for the situation of Cyprus, whether that concerns migration or the ongoing challenges faced by the two separate communities in their attempts to strive for reunification.
I can only welcome the constructive 10th AUC-EC Commission-to-Commission (C2C) meeting held at the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa on 27 February.