In the time of coronavirus

By Isabel Caño Aguilar

We are experiencing exceptional and unusual circumstances.

On the one hand, we are isolated in our own countries, our own homes, and on the other hand, we know that the world cannot stop and that civil society keeps getting up every morning and starting work.

This unprecedented situation is placing a heavy emotional burden on all of us.

And it's hard to imagine what the consequences of each new day will be. Every aspect of our professional and private lives has been affected.

Firstly, I would like to mention the public services, especially those looking after our health – dedicated professionals who are shouldering their responsibilities, working overtime and putting in every effort to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed and health services from collapsing. Since 15 March, I have joined in the applause from balconies at 8 p.m. every day. In so doing, I am not only helping to show appreciation for this mammoth task, I am also supporting a clear demand: more resources for our public health systems!

In particular, I would like to thank and highlight the efforts of all the healthcare staff at the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department at Granada's San Cecilio Clinical University Hospital, who shared with us the photo published in this edition of EESCInfo.

To mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, the WHO is celebrating the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife in 2020. These men and women fulfil a crucial role and provide essential services, and continue to do so during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

They are not the only ones. We sometimes forget an equally vital sector, education, in which I'm proud to have worked. Millions of students across Europe are confined to their homes and would not be able to continue learning without the constant and tireless support of education workers.

Never before has the work of these sectors been so much in the public spotlight and, personally, I think that this recognition should turn into a commitment from the EU to abandon the austerity measures that left them underfunded and instead introduce specific measures and allocate larger budgets.

We won't be able to overcome this crisis without the civil society organisations that are working on the ground every day, but we need decisive action from the EU.

With the 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration just days away, now more than ever we need strong impetus and commitment from the EU. The right measures and action need to be taken, including with regard to the budget, so that EU citizens can see that the EU is still an exciting project and not just an acronym.

In these testing times, which will have a lasting effect on our society, we must, above all, be able to convey the idea that another Europe – a stronger and better Europe – is possible.