The European Union is already looking for ways to include Western Balkan countries in its mechanisms to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, said in his response to an appeal Western Balkan parliament speakers sent to the EU recently.
As President of the European Parliament, I assure you of my full support for finding the best solutions to protect you from the negative consequences of this crisis, Sassoli says.
Parliament speakers of North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia, on March 25, called for assistance to be provided to the Western Balkan countries to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in a letter addressed to European Parliament President David Sassoli, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
We are living through an unprecedented challenge, brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. A global problem cannot have national solutions and, in many ways, this Coronavirus outbreak is a test to our European solidarity. The EU institutions did well and presented a unitary front in proposing European solutions – solutions based on solidarity and that strive to not leave behind the most vulnerable countries, Sassoli says.
The Western Balkans, he points out, are part of our European family and their European vocation is beyond any doubt.
If we stay united, we can emerge stronger from the crisis, Sasoli said in the response.
In the letter addressed to the heads of the European Parliament and the European Commission, Western Balkans parliament speakers asked that the region be exempted from the decision to restrict export of medical equipment from the European Union in order to become part of the Common European Response in the fight against COVID-19.
The speakers urged the EU representatives to consider the possibility of including the Western Balkan region in the EU + export license scheme, to enable the Western Balkans region, if it deems it necessary, to accede to the Joint Procurement Agreement for medical countermeasures and thus to participate in the joint public procurement of medical and protective equipment to combat the coronavirus pandemic, to consider allowing the Western Balkans region to divert unspent funds from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA II) to combat the coronavirus pandemic, as well as to use all other funds available from the various EU funds available for this purpose.