The 27 are trying to coordinate better in the face of the Covid-19 epidemic

German health ministers Jens Spahn and French minister Agnes Buzyn at a meeting on the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus at the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels on February 13. JOHN THYS / AFP

If for the moment, Europe remains relatively untouched by the coronavirus, which affects some 35 people, Friday, February 14 in the morning, and does not count any dead for the moment, nothing allows“Rule out the possibility that this regionally limited epidemic will become a global pandemic”, warned the German Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, before meeting his counterparts in Brussels, Thursday, February 13.

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At this meeting, the Twenty-Seven therefore decided to coordinate better in the face of the threat posed by the coronavirus from China, in order to “To improve efficiency” national measures already taken. And this, while guaranteeing the principle of free movement, at the heart of community construction and which some member states may be tempted to forget.

Ban direct air links with China

“What we wanted to avoid was that the 27 were protecting themselves in a disorderly manner from the coronavirus and that here and there in Europe were born panic movements”says a diplomat. Faced with the epidemic, each country in the European Union has so far adopted its own measures, whether in quarantine, passenger screening or advice to travelers.

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And some of these choices weren’t the most daring. Like that of the Italian governments, under pressure from Matteo Salvini, and the Czech government, more recently, to ban direct air links between China and their country. “It’s counterproductive”, explains a specialist in the subject, “Instead of going from point A to point B directly, travelers now pass through point C …”. Elsewhere, some companies, such as British Airways or Air France, have decided to suspend their flights to China. “Viruses know no borders, and it is time for the EU to respond to this challenge in a coordinated and united manner”, urged the European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides.

In this context, the Europeans, starting with France and Germany, considered that it was urgent to try to reconcile the points of view. Member States must therefore all be able, at points of entry into Europe, starting with airports, to identify worrying cases and to deal with them by means “Proportionate and appropriate”, as specified by the conclusions of the Council of Ministers of Health on Thursday. It is also necessary that people who have passed through areas affected by the virus, such as China, can be identified and located.

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