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International Partnerships
Press release28 March 2020Directorate-General for International Partnerships4 min read

Commissioner Urpilainen: Team Europe with our partners against Covid-19

Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships
European Union

The exceptional times that we are living are pulling us apart from each other and at the same time, demand a strong collective effort from us. We can and will manage this challenge together.

Like so many these days, I’m now working from home, from where I’m writing this post. With my children with me for company and comfort, and though I am worried for them and their future, I can say that I’m still one of the lucky ones. But for millions of people in the EU and in the world, life right now is much tougher. Some, including elderly people and the most vulnerable, are ill, or may be living alone. Others have no home of their own to go to. And heroes work around the clock to fight this virus on the frontline.

At this time it is important to stress that we may be separated physically but we are united. And we are stronger together. This is what our leaders expressed as wish and commitment in the framework of Thursday’s G20.

And as Team Europe, we must be united. The European Union and its Member States are responding. We are working hard to contain the spread of the coronavirus – both in Europe and beyond. This global crisis requires a global response. As long as the crisis continues somewhere in the world, we will not be safe. As Commissioner for International Partnerships, I am working tirelessly to make sure that the EU plays its part in waging the global fight against this pandemic effectively, with a particular attention to the most fragile countries.

Confronted with this unprecedented global crisis, the EU is taking its responsibilities as a global player very seriously. We act together with our partner countries to identify the needs and provide the necessary assistance to respond, in this fast-evolving situation.

To do that, we need to put the varied tools and resources we have for the external action to full use in our coordinated work with our partner countries. We will make an impact through a comprehensive and coordinated contribution to the global fight against the coronavirus.

Our approach must be comprehensive, tackling public health and socio-economic challenges together, using joined-up, coherent measures – measures designed to work now and in the foreseeable future. We’re in this for the long haul.

On the health front, in line with the broader international response, we need to pursue key policy priorities where there are important resource gaps. We need to step up support efforts and boost response capacities in countries with the weakest health systems. This is what EU leaders committed to: ensure international cooperation in tackling this pandemic and continue to assist vulnerable countries and communities around the world, especially in Africa.

It is also important to provide additional medical supplies and equipment where needed and make sure that health workers have enough protective equipment. Greater regional collaboration is also key. We have to keep working on new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. We know that this policy mix can work.

Our support for our partner countries in their efforts to counter the social and economic impact of the crisis needs to be equally wide-ranging and robust. It must include helping with measures to support people’s incomes, provide them with some form of social protection, protect workers at the workplace, prevent discrimination and social exclusion, and safeguard human rights, especially where women, girls and the most vulnerable in society are concerned.

Moreover, our approach works when it is as coordinated as it is comprehensive. This means all EU institutions and Member States have to work together as a real Team Europe to provide our effective contribution to the global response. It also means showing leadership in our efforts to form a united front against the pandemic with other major international players, partner governments, financial institutions, civil society, the private sector and others.

So, those who predicted the demise of multilateralism spoke too soon. There is now global recognition that the world must put aside its differences and come together against a common threat. By leaving no one behind, by promoting solidarity and acting in a truly inclusive way.

Solidarity and partnership between nations sum up the European Union’s very essence. That’s why we consistently champion international cooperation. We work on strengthening our international partnerships around the globe – now, and when this terrible virus has become a distant memory.

For now, though, the virus is very much a part of our lives. But if we look after ourselves, and look out for each other – even from a distance – we can beat it, and emerge stronger and more united than ever and offer the brighter future we all wish for our children. All we need to do is understand that we’re all in this together and act one for all and all for one. This is what Europe is about.


Publication date
28 March 2020
Directorate-General for International Partnerships