EU leaders have agreed to fund and research together to find a vaccine to beat coronavirus but have not agreed on coordinated flight restrictions as it spreads across member states
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar spoke with his EU counterparts during a video conference tonight, at which funding for equipment and facilities was also agreed to try and save lives and protect populations.
Speaking after the online conference with fellow leaders, Mr Varadkar said:
“We agreed that our highest priorities as leaders must be protecting public health and human life, protecting the spread of the virus and working to mitigate its impact on our people. We agreed funding research in Europe to help develop new tests, new treatments and a vaccine as rapidly as possible.”
Leaders also discussed the economic impact of the crisis, which Mr Varadkar said “could be severe and long lasting”.
“We agreed that the necessary flexibilities would be made available. State aids, stability and growth pact [funds], to protect the most exposed sectors, to protect SMEs and jobs.”
Health ministers in the bloc will also now speak to each other on a daily basis.
Mr Varadkar said it was also agreed that flight slots would be protected in the event they are removed from countries.
He said that flights had been “suspended” between Italy and Ireland.
Mr Varadkar said leaders had agreed to coordinate restricting flights in the bloc, but no specific details were released by the government.
The Cabinet sub-committee on the virus will meet again on Friday and Monday, he said, and clinicians would continue to advise the government on the best course of action to take.