Opening remarks by President Charles Michel before the videoconference of EU leaders

Welcome to all of you. And my apologies for the short notice. I thought that after some informal consultations that it was useful, and even necessary, to call this videoconference in light of the situation.

The last days have demonstrated that the virus is spreading in all member states. This is a matter for all of us.  Let me first express my sympathy for all those citizens who have been affected by this disease and, in particular, our sympathy for Italy and for our colleague Giuseppe, whose country has so far been hit hardest and whose measures ask severe personal sacrifices from the Italians.

I think we should therefore try to coordinate as much as possible and see how we can do more together, both as regards the disease and its wider economic consequences. I would like to propose to structure our debate on four different topics.

First, how to contain the spread and how it’s possible, maybe in this discussion, to agree with some principles. The priority, as the heads of our citizens, is to act based on science and medical advice and to try to respect the principle of proportionality.

The second question, I think which is important is how to guarantee the provision of medical equipment and medical products. And here I think that maybe the Commission can be helpful and can play a role in order to try to coordinate all the efforts and to try to support the different member states.

The third point is research and how it’s possible to strengthen all the efforts taken at the national level, but also by companies, with the support of the European Commission, in order to have a vaccine and to find a solution as soon as possible.

The fourth point: the economic consequences. I think it is also important to work with Mário Centeno, who is present with us tonight, with the Commission, probably also with the European Investment Bank.  And thank you to Christine Lagarde and the ECB.