On Friday 3 April 2020, Luxembourg’s Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Jean Asselborn, participated in the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council; the meeting, which took place by videoconference, was entirely dedicated to European and international aspects of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The foreign ministers first reviewed efforts and issues related to repatriation and consular assistance to EU citizens stranded in third countries. In this regard, Minister Asselborn stressed that European solidarity is of crucial importance. He praised the efforts made by several European partners which have enabled the repatriation of citizens and residents of Luxembourg. For its part, the Grand Duchy organised a return flight from Cape Verde last week. "We are ready to continue contributing to this collective effort," said Minister Asselborn.
In addition, the Minister reiterated that it is essential to guarantee access and the opening of transit routes within the European Union and the Schengen area.
In terms of mutual aid within the EU, Minister Asselborn also mentioned the fact that Luxembourg receives French patients from the neighbouring Grand Est region, greatly affected by Covid-19. "European solidarity is crucial when it comes to life and death," he said. The minister recalled Luxembourg's availability to lend assistance to other partners, such as Spain and Italy.
Jean Asselborn highlighted the fact that even in a period when emergency measures must be taken, the values of the European Union - democracy, human rights and the rule of law - cannot be questioned: "as long as I am a member of the Council of the European Union, I will continue to make a commitment not only to preserve these values, but also to defend them when they are attacked".
Subsequently, European ministers examined the measures that can be taken to strengthen international cooperation in favour of the countries most vulnerable to this global crisis. Indeed, countries in conflict zones are particularly exposed to the harmful consequences of a health crisis of such magnitude. With this in mind, Minister Asselborn welcomed the appeal of the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, for a comprehensive cease-fire. "Such a cease-fire would save the lives of the most vulnerable, in particular women and children affected by armed conflict," said the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, before expressing Luxembourg's support. the global humanitarian response plan to Covid-19 presented by officials from the UN, WHO and Unicef.
As part of international efforts to stem the Covid-19 pandemic, Luxembourg "will pay particular attention to the needs of our partners in Africa," said the head of Luxembourg diplomacy. Jean Asselborn recalled that other regions are also at high risk, notably the Middle East, citing the example of Syrians, Palestinians and Iranians.
Finally, the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union was an opportunity to discuss European cooperation in the area of communication. It was agreed to better highlight the numerous actions which are carried out by the Member States in a spirit of European solidarity. This will help counter the proliferation of misinformation that we are witnessing in the context of the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.