24 March 2021
During today's debate, MEP Raffaele Fitto, Co-Chairman of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament, stressed that it is time for a real change of pace, that we need concrete answers on compliance and contracts around vaccines.
ECR Co-Chairman Raffaele Fitto’s plenary speech in preparation to the European Council Meeting of 25 and 26 March:
“A year ago, the pandemic hit our continent for the first time, putting a strain on our health systems and causing millions of deaths. This changed our way of life, imposing restrictions on citizens and businesses. We’re now in the midst of a third wave and the epidemiological situation is worsening considerably. We’ve seen a sharp increase in the number of infections and hospitalizations, as well as the prevalence of the new British variant. Several Member States have announced or are in the process of announcing new partial or full lockdowns.
“The EU response seems slow and ineffective. The vaccination campaign is struggling to take off. The goal of vaccinating the vast majority of the European population before summer seems to be a long way behind schedule. The feeling of mistrust is growing among our citizens and entire sectors do not yet know when they will be able to resume their activities.
“It is time for a real change of pace, for concrete answers on compliance with contracts, procurement, improvement of production and logistics capacity, reciprocity and proportionality in the exchange of vaccines with third countries.
“Vaccines are the only weapons we have to contain and defeat the virus, to reclaim our daily lives, and allow a true, lasting recovery of the European economy. A recovery that must have businesses, in particular SMEs, at its core.
“To achieve this it is necessary to 1) review the rules of economic governance, less austerity more investments, 2) preserve and relaunch the single market, with less bureaucracy and a legislation capable of guaranteeing the development and competitiveness of our economies, avoiding imbalances and asymmetries.
“In that respect, the “digital green certificate” proposed by the Commission to restore the free movement of citizens and restart the tourism sector is positive, but only with the right conditions. Those conditions being that it is promptly approved before the summer, and structured and implemented effectively to prevent the creation of unequal treatment within the EU. It must ensure that sensitive data is protected, but above all else, it must allow the tourism sector and all related activities to plan the summer season and promote economic and employment recovery.
“This crisis has shown that in the past, choices have been made too frequently which have made us dependent on others. We need to strive for strategic autonomy for all fundamental technologies, value chains and the most sensitive industrial systems. The digital transition can be an important tool for the revitalization of our economies, and the creation and transformation of new jobs, but at the same time it is necessary that no one is left behind and our values and especially our security is guaranteed.
“To achieve this, a credible and assertive EU is needed on the international stage. In the Eastern Mediterranean, a change is needed from our recent policy towards Turkey. Yes to dialogue, but it is enough to be subjected to Erdogan’s blackmail and prevaricating actions. His hegemonic attempt in the Mediterranean must be stopped clearly and decisively.
“At the same time, the EU and its member states need to outline a new strategy for relations with Russia based on promoting democratic values, the rule of law, fundamental freedoms and human rights. The EU must avoid other disastrous diplomatic missions such as that of High Representative Borrell in Moscow last month and definitively stop the Nord Stream 2 project. “
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