Good afternoon everyone,
I appreciate everyone following us here or from home.
For those of you who may remember, I was standing here in the end of January for the first time on the issue of coronavirus. At that time, the EU together with the rest of the world was witnessing Chinese efforts to help people in Wuhan. That was the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.
The outbreak in Wuhan made us quickly recognise the potential risks to the wider society. And that then became quickly a global reality. But the Commission started immediately to work on all fronts to protect people in Europe and beyond.
No one is immune to this virus. That is why everyone needs to cooperate so we can overcome this challenge, everyone in Europe included.
It is also clear that the whole world was very much caught by surprise by the force of this virus and the speed of its spread. We are now dealing with a pandemic.
In this situation, when business as usual is shutting down, the most pressing shortages we can feel are with the production and supply of personal protective equipment and other medical equipment. These are the things that are needed most for our medical staff, civil protection workers and everyone else out there on the frontline who are trying to save lives.
Almost every country seems to have been caught by surprise in this respect. And this I think should be a lesson for the future. Nevertheless, the EU is here to provide assistance by focusing on solutions to the most pressing issues our citizens and the Member States have in these demanding times.
This is why the EU is taking action to get more equipment to Member States. In this context we have decided to set up a rescEU stockpile to rapidly get the supplies needed to fight the coronavirus.
This strategic rescEU stockpile will be used to support Member States facing shortages of equipment needed to treat infected patients, protect health care workers and help slow the spread of the virus.
Our plan is to move ahead without delay following the adoption of this act today.
The medical equipment that will be part of the stockpile will include items such as:
-intensive care medical equipment such as ventilators,
-personal protective equipment such as reusable masks,
-vaccines when available and therapeutics,
It should now be clear to everyone that we are all in this together. That is why we have to work constructively and focus on solutions.
Lastly, I would like to stress that this is not a virtual reality. It is very much real and it is happening everywhere to everyone. I therefore call on all citizens to do their part, to do the right thing, and stay at home.