Delegation of the European Union to Djibouti and IGAD

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This year, we mark World Press Freedom Day in the midst of a global pandemic. This gives us a special reason to pay tribute to all the journalists and media workers who bring us the news and analyse the world we are in.

On World Press Freedom Day, we pay tribute to the essential role of journalism in upholding online and offline freedom of expression in democratic societies and fostering transparency and accountability. The COVID-19 crisis has brought the importance of the work of the press into sharp relief. In times of uncertainty, more than ever, access to reliable fact-checked information, that is free from undue interference and influence, is crucial and contributes to a more resilient society. It is a matter of concern that the COVID-19 pandemic is being used in some countries as a pretext for imposing undue restrictions on freedom of the press.

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads around the world, the European Union and its Member States have observed cyber threats and malicious cyber activities targeting essential operators in Member States and their international partners, including in the healthcare sector. Since the beginning of the pandemic, significant phishing and malware distribution campaigns, scanning activities and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks have been detected, some affecting critical infrastructures that are essential to managing this crisis.

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As we mark half a century of Earth Day, we are faced with two crises: the coronavirus pandemic; and the gradually growing disaster for our climate. We must solve both challenges. The world was not prepared for the novel coronavirus. But we still have time to prepare for the climate crisis in every part of the world.

Brussels, 20/04/2020

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Thank you for this opportunity to discuss the implications of this pandemic in EU foreign affairs and for your strong support to a joint EU response to this global crisis. Because it is really a global crisis which is affecting all geopolitical aspects.

It is now more than a month that the corona virus has Europe in its grip. While every day we work flat out to address the crisis in all its aspects, it is good to step back and reflect on what living with COVID19 means, for our daily lives, for Europe, for the wider world and how it will affect our society.

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