Brussels defends border control if situation gets worse

The European Commission analyzes joint measures this Thursday, February 13.

The European Commission analyzes joint measures this Thursday, February 13.

  |  DR

Today, the European commission defended the adoption of "measures proportional" to the risk of spread of the new coronavirus in the European Union (EU). These can include border controls in the community space if the situation worsens.

Speaking to journalists at the entrance to an extraordinary meeting of EU health ministers about the new outbreak, the European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, stated that the community executive will encourage the adoption of "proportional measures" in the Union.

Whem asked whether this could include controls at EU borders to prevent the spread of the Covid-19, the official said that: "It is something that needs to be discussed."

Even so, he stressed that "The EU must be prepared, in case the situation gets worse."

For Janez Lenarcic, measures should be adopted, at the Union level, that "take into account the risk, which is still low, but [which] exists and can increase".

"I hope that the health ministers will focus on the preparation because we are still in an active phase of this outbreak, so the member states have to be prepared," he underlined.

Also speaking at the entrance to the meeting, the European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides, stressed that this "is an important moment for the EU's response to the coronavirus epidemic".

"From the beginning, I have supported the Presidency of the Council to promote this extraordinary council because the virus knows no borders and, in that sense, the EU and the member states have to work together in a coordinated way to face this challenge," added the official.

Stella Kyriakides stressed that "although the number of confirmed cases is still relatively low", the EU must "be vigilant and coordinated".

Data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, accessed this morning by Lusa, show there are currently 35 confirmed cases in the EU: 16 in Germany, 11 in France, three in Italy, two in Spain and one in Belgium, in Finland and in Sweden.

In addition to these cases, in Europe there are also eight cases in the United Kingdom.

Brussels is hosting today an extraordinary emergency meeting of health ministers of the European Union, convened by the Council presidency, in which the 27 will discuss the strengthening of coordination at the European level to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Portugal will be represented at the meeting, whose beginning is scheduled for 10 am (9 am in Lisbon), by the Health Minister, Marta Temido.

According to the current Croatian semiannual presidency of the Council of the EU, at this extraordinary meeting "ministers will have the opportunity to exchange points of view, to confirm a common understanding of the situation and to discuss possible complementary measures to improve the coordination in terms of readiness and ability to respond with the aim of protecting public health".

The Council Presidency adds that this will also be "an opportunity to consider a possible joint response of the EU to unforeseen situations in third party countries that could affect the European market for medical products and devices".

At the end of the meeting, conclusions are expected to be adopted by the 27 regarding the outbreak of the new coronavirus, Covid-19 - the name given this week by the World Health Organization -, which originated in China and has infected more than 45,000 people, the overwhelming majority on the Chinese continent, leading to the death of more than 1,100 people.