Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of An Taoiseach
European Council Meetings
I propose to take Questions Nos. 3 and 4 together.
On 23 April, I joined fellow members of the European Council by video conference to discuss management of the coronavirus crisis and to chart a path towards economic and social recovery. This was the fourth such meeting, with previous videoconferences having taken place on 10, 17 and 26 March.
In our meetings, we focussed on five strategic areas of work in which it makes sense to cooperate together:
- Limiting the spread of the virus;
- ensuring the supply of medicines, equipment and goods;
- supporting research;
- tackling socio-economic consequences; and
- co-operating to bring citizens home from other countries.
At our most recent meeting on 23 April, we welcomed the Joint European Roadmap towards the lifting of COVID-19 containment measures published by the Commission on 15 April. It sets out a principles-based and science-led approach to re-opening our societies and our economies and aligns with the approach we have taken as a Government to date.
We also endorsed an economic package, agreed by the Eurogroup, worth up to €540 billion, and asked that it be operational in June. This comprises three safety nets, one for citizens, one for companies, and one for Member States.
Looking beyond the immediate crisis, we agreed on the need to put in place a Recovery Fund commensurate to the scale of the challenge we will face in rebuilding our economies and businesses, and getting our citizens back to work, as soon as circumstances permit.
On 8 May, I spoke with the Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Löfven. We discussed the current Covid-19 crisis and the importance of ongoing discussions at EU level on a recovery fund and on the MFF. We also discussed the current state of play in the EU-UK negotiations on the future partnership, we well as implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Irish Protocol.
PM Löfven took the opportunity to thank Ireland for assisting in the repatriation of Swedish citizens from India.
On 17 May, I spoke with President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. We discussed the detailed work that the Commission is undertaking in analysing the impact of the Covid19 crisis, sector-by-sector and region-by-region, and its work on a Recovery Fund. We also discussed how this Fund will interact with the Union’s budget for the next seven years, and the Commission’s plan to bring forward a new proposal in that regard in the near future.