EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen offered a “heartfelt apology” to Italy on behalf of Europe admitting that it was not by its side from the beginning when the country needed support. Speaking at a debate in the European Parliament on EU’s response on COVID-19, the Commission president said that Europe has now become the world's beating heart of solidarity.
"Yes, it is true that no one was really ready for this. It is also true that too many were not there on time when Italy needed a helping hand at the very beginning," von der Leyen to an almost empty Parliament.
The Commission president emphasised the need for an unprecedented method to save lives and protect the livelihoods of Europeans, adding that they will use every available euro in every conceivable way to make sure the economy is ready to bounce forward as soon as possible. She said that the EU needs a Marshall Plan for Europe's recovery and it needs to be put in place immediately.
During this crisis Europe has become the world’s beating heart of solidarity. It's time to put behind old divisions, disputes, recriminations & be ready for this new world. We need all power and strength to make our economies, societies & way of life more sustainable & resilient. pic.twitter.com/ZcdCa94GtQ— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) April 16, 2020
Meanwhile, the Wolrd Health Organisation (WHO) said that Europe remains in the “eye of the storm” even as the worst-hit countries showing some positive signs vis-a-vis the number of coronavirus cases. WHO Regional Director for Europe, Hans Kluge, told a news conference on April 16 that positive signals in some countries are tempered by “sustained or increased levels” of incidence in other countries.
Kluge said that the next few weeks will be critical for Europe as cases across the region continue to climb and the number of cases reported in Europe in the past 10 days has nearly doubled to close to a million. He highlighted that about 50 per cent of the global burden of COVID-19 is in Europe with over 84,000 people in the region losing their lives due to the virus.