Sassoli: Democracy cannot be suspended in face of COVID-19 

Statement by European Parliament President David Sassoli at opening of extraordinary plenary session on measures to tackle COVID-19

The European Parliament today met to vote on urgent EU measures to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, including support for health care systems and financial assistance for the member states most effected by the current crisis. It is the first European Parliament plenary session to use remote voting.

At the opening of the session, European Parliament President David Sassoli said:

“We are experiencing an extraordinary and unexpected situation. We have had to take unprecedented decisions in the last weeks, trying to anticipate rapidly changing circumstances to protect the health of staff and Members, while guaranteeing that the democratic work of the institution can continue.

“We had to slow down, of course. But we have not stopped, because democracy cannot be suspended in the midst of such a dramatic crisis. Indeed, it is our duty, in these difficult times, to be at the service of our citizens. As legislators, we have the means, the possibility, and the duty to help.

“Today we are present, albeit remotely, united through this unprecedented, extraordinary format. We are determined to make our contribution in the fight against this pandemic by guaranteeing that the democratic work of this parliament can continue. This is the only way we can serve people, serve our communities, and serve healthcare workers who are sacrificing themselves in the wards of our hospitals across Europe.

“A few days ago, this horrible virus hit us very closely, it took away a young life, a young man who worked right here with us in the European Parliament. Our deepest condolences go to the family of Giancarlo as well as to the families of all the people who have lost their lives because of COVID-19.”

“I want to recognise all those people who fight this virus every day with courage and determination, to those who are sick first of all, to the medical staff who work tirelessly throughout Europe and also to citizens who with their responsible behavior will be decisive in eradicating this pandemic.”

The President will hold a press conference at 16.30. More information is available here.

Atmosphere shots of the arrivals and the opening remarks of President Sassoli are available here.