The Malta Independent 18 September 2021, Saturday

‘Never before has EU solidarity been so tested or so needed’ – Roberta Metsola

Thursday, 16 April 2020, 12:49 Last update: about 2 years ago

With more people fleeing Libya, frontline countries like Malta, Italy and Greece cannot be left to fend for themselves, PN MEP Roberta Metsola told the European Parliament on Thursday.

Speaking during a debate in the extraordinary plenary, Metsola urged the European Union to act as she expressed regret that lives are still being lost at sea.

"A looming humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean - we are seeing increased numbers of boats fleeing Libya only to remain stuck out at sea unable to disembark - a coherent European approach is urgent. Meaningful solidarity is crucial. Lives must be saved, and we cannot leave frontline Member States like Italy, Greece and Malta alone. These are the crises in which Europe must show its true nature and we cannot come up short.

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We are all in this together and the only way out of this is together."

Metsola also spoke about the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects. "The European Union is based on the certainty of solidarity between Member States. Never before in the history of our Union has such solidarity been needed. And never before has it been tested in such a manner," the MEP said.

"This virus knows no borders, but it does know heroes - our doctors, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, scientists, cleaners, delivery drivers, shelf stackers - are the global face of resilience in the toughest of circumstances."

Metsola said, "I hear a lot of people comparing the situation to war - but in the words of the German President, this is not war - this is a test of our humanity. And of our spirit. This pandemic should not expose Europe's weaknesses but should shine a light on our strengths."

Acknowledging that the responses were slower than they should have been, MEP Metsola said "despite a slow start the face of Europe was shown in the patients from Bergamo being hospitalised in Bavaria, Romanian doctors heading to Italy, equipment from Lithuania to Spain, Maltese and Italian designers now sewing surgical masks."

MEP Metsola called for joint procurement of an eventual vaccine to ensure countries like Malta also have equal access, saying "Joint European procurement meant even the smallest Member States could still get needed equipment - we now must extend that to the joint procurement of a vaccine when this becomes available." 

The MEP appealed again for European States to do "whatever it takes to save jobs, companies and livelihoods," saying that "European economic packages mean millions of jobs will be saved - but there are still far too many people who slip through the cracks and who find nowhere to turn to. We must address them too, be flexible and continue to adapt."

 


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