EU leaders urged national capitals to cut the chaos and coordinate a careful easing of coronavirus lockdown measures when conditions permit.
With some EU countries already pushing ahead with their own exit strategies, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Council President Charles Michel on Wednesday presented a “roadmap” for winding down the containment rules that have restricted the freedoms of millions of people and put much of the EU’s economy in a deep freeze.
In putting forward the roadmap document — which was first published Tuesday by POLITICO — von der Leyen acknowledged that legal authority rested in the capitals and that Brussels could not compel national leaders to follow the EU guidelines. Nonetheless, she insisted the EU’s approach would provide an important “frame” that would promote a choreographed approach across the bloc.
Health experts have warned that a premature easing of containment measurements without proper controls would risk a renewed spike in infections, and a second wave of the crisis.
At a news conference, von der Leyen urged national capitals to meet three conditions as they seek to ease: a verifiable, sustained decrease in the number of coronavirus cases; confirmation of sufficient health system capacity to provide critical care not only for COVID-19 patients but for those suffering from other illnesses; and “sufficient surveillance and monitoring capacity in the form of large-scale testing.”
Von der Leyen noted that EU countries had requested the Commission’s guidelines, which she described as “a series of recommendation to insure a gradual, consolidated and coordinated effort across the European Union.”
She stressed that the Commission was not declaring that it was time to lift the lockdown measures, but merely putting the guidelines in place for leaders to use once they reach that conclusion based on conditions in each country.
Want more analysis from POLITICO? POLITICO Pro is our premium intelligence service for professionals. From financial services to trade, technology, cybersecurity and more, Pro delivers real time intelligence, deep insight and breaking scoops you need to keep one step ahead. Email email@example.com to request a complimentary trial.