A fully fledged Health Union must become a key priority for the future. In the first ever EESC webinar on 24 April 2020, Committee president Luca Jahier said that the time was ripe for a new step forward in European integration.
The EU had to deliver a common response in the health sector to the current coronavirus crisis, capitalising on what had been done over the past few weeks and moving ahead with a clear vision. "We need to protect people who are facing the pandemic but also work together to prevent new ones," said Mr Jahier. "Here we have a need, a demand and an opportunity to be the stronger Union that EU citizens want."
In discussing the challenges that the EU was facing with the COVID-19 emergency, Mr Jahier was joined by MEP Margarida Marques, vice-chair of the European Parliament's Budget Committee, and Enrico Letta, former Italian prime minister and President of the Jacques Delors Institute.
Commenting on the EU Recovery Fund agreed by the European Council on 23 April 2020, which endorsed the EUR 540 billion safety net package adopted by the Eurogroup the previous week, Mr Jahier was pleased to note that there were no longer tensions between Member States. Along the same line, Ms Marques stressed that the Council had sent a positive and strong signal to Europeans: "No Member State will be able to comply with the EU's fiscal rules. This is a symmetric crisis with symmetric consequences and we need to recover at European level, not only at national level. We need to be specific and deliver on solidarity."
Looking ahead, Mr Letta encouraged the Commission to be daring: "Now is the time for this Commission to adopt a mature approach and, taking Jacques Delors as its model, to be very proactive and come forward with ambitious proposals to be presented to citizens, even if they are not all already agreed by the Member States. Citizens have a key role to play in the solution and when they are supportive, agreement from Member States will follow." (mp)