COVID-19: Commission works to get protection equipment to Italy under the Civil Protection Mechanism and coordinates assessment of impact on industry

The Commission strengthens its efforts to prevent and contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the EU. As Italy has activated the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism, requesting protective facemasks, the EU Emergency Response Coordination Centre is now working 24/7 and has relayed the request to all Member States to mobilise offers of assistance. Commissioner for Crisis Management and EU Emergency Response Coordinator Janez Lenarčič said: “Italy is part of our European family and we will do all we can to help. We are in permanent contact with the Italian civil protection authorities. As we have said since the beginning, this is a virus that knows no borders and all countries should show solidarity and coordinate the response.” Then, yesterday, Commission for internal market Thierry Breton announced that the Commission would coordinate an EU-wide analysis of the effects of the outbreak on European industry and businesses. “The impact on tourism and air transport is already being felt. And this is only the beginning,” the Commissioner said yesterday at the Competitiveness Council. 250,000 Chinese travellers did not travel between January and February, which represents a loss of two million overnight stays. European carriers will also be affected. Commissioner Breton has asked Member States to send aggregated data on the impact on supply chains. The Commissioner and the ministers in charge of industry will meet again in a month’ time, at the next informal Competitiveness Council in Croatia, to look at the results. If needed, a formal Council could be then solely dedicated to this issue in the following weeks. Meanwhile, they will remain in close contact. The Commission, together with the EU Member States, is also accelerating the process of the joint procurement of protective equipment, in order to facilitate necessary access to personal protective equipment needed by Members States in order to minimise potential shortages.