Minister Flanagan joins European colleagues in Covid 19 Video Conference

 

 

16 March, 2020

 

This morning, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, participated in a video conference involving Ministers for Health and Interior from EU and Schengen countries, and EU Commissioners Lenarcic (Crisis Management) Kyriakides (Health and Food Safety) and Johansson (Home Affairs).  The Minister was joined by senior Justice and Health officials at the meeting, the primary purpose of which was to discuss border management and health issues and the new Commission guidelines on this topic.

 

Minister Flanagan, in his intervention, welcomed an EU coordinated approach and confirmed that Ireland would fully participate in centralised procurement of essential items such as testing kits.  He emphasised the importance of not disrupting the free movement of goods and, in particular facilitating suppliers transiting through countries delivering essential goods. 

 

Minister Flanagan said,

 

“On behalf of the Irish Government, I welcomed plans to coordinate the procurement of important items such as ventilators and test equipment. Efficient and speedy transport is essential, especially when it comes to medical necessities to ensure that all Governments across the EU can deal with this extremely serious situation.”

 

The Minister added,

 

“I also emphasised the importance of citizens being able to return to their own countries.  The Tánaiste has been very active on this issue and I want to acknowledge the cooperation of airlines among others.  It is very important that any citizens that need to return home can do so – including tourists, workers, ERASMUS students and so on.”

 

Minister Flanagan concluded:

 

“Just as Ministers are working closely together here in Ireland, it is very important that at EU level, we continue to remain in close contact, sharing information and perspectives and cooperating with one another in a spirit of solidarity at this exceptionally difficult time.”

 

The guidelines issued by the Commission today are consistent with Ireland’s position on these matters.

 

The guidelines state that, while proportionate controls on unnecessary travel based on health advice are justifiable, it is important to ensure that supply chains for goods including medicines should not be disrupted which means all states facilitating transit traffic by goods vehicles.  There should also not be restrictions on nationals returning to their own country and all states should facilitate EU citizens returning home. Frontier commuter workers should also be facilitated.

 

The Commission is promoting social distancing.  They are also pursuing centralised procurement of protective equipment, ventilators and testing kits.

 

There will be further such video conferences as required, and as the COVID_19 situation develops.

 

ENDS…/

 

 

Note to Editors

 

This morning the European Commission published “Guidelines for border management measures to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and essential services”.   See: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_468