Seventy years to this day and in the aftermath of a devastating war, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman called for the pooling of resources among European states that would lead to economic cooperation, better standards of living and, thereupon, peace in Europe. Now known as the “Schuman Declaration”, this vision paved the way for what is now the European Union and is celebrated as “Europe Day” on 9 May every year. What grew a single market that allowed the free movement of people, goods, services– but also of opportunities, ideas, ideals and values. It also grew to allow the creation of a Union of freedom and prosperity that values equality, human rights, multilateralism and the rule of law.
As the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, the main pillars of the EU – unity and solidarity – have become more important than ever. The crisis brought about by COVID-19 has tested the very foundations of the EU, and, even, our ability to look beyond ourselves, our families and our own nations. But while COVID-19 has tested our ability to act collectively, possibly forever changing how we see the world, the EU has shown its ability to stand in unison and to show global solidarity. In times of crisis, especially the kind that affects all, regardless of citizenship, age, race and gender, it is important to remember that we must make the commitment to stick together through thick and thin to come out of the crisis.
We can only address this major global challenge by establishing partnerships, and by preserving and strengthening multilateralism. Our approach must be comprehensive, tackling public health and socio-economic challenges. It must be coherent and coordinated. But most importantly it must be united. Through the “Team Europe” approach, the European Union as a whole, its institutions and EU Member States, have combined efforts to provide a quick and effective global response: with empathy, humility and humanity we have reached out to our partners, looking at the specific needs of each country and region, to ensure that our support has been tailored to their needs to respond to the pandemic.
Jordan, like all of the EU's partner countries, can continue to count on us for support, including in facing this crisis. Lending a helping hand to its neighbours and giving assistance to those most in need is part of the collective EU response to the COVID-19 crisis. The EU is currently looking into redirecting and adjusting components of ongoing and planned projects of the value of €355 million to Jordan, to help address the immediate health crisis and to mitigate the pandemic’s socio-economic impact. It will do this through support to health, education, social protection, economic reforms, small and medium sized enterprises, waste water treatment and solid waste management. The assistance channelled via the EU Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis will also be as targeted and as relevant as possible, supporting Syrian refugees and their host communities. And to help safeguard Jordan's economic and financial stability, the EU will provide an additional €200 million Macro-Financial Assistance to Jordan, in addition to the €500 million agreed at the beginning of this year.
But while a key EU goal is to share prosperity through developmental assistance and by sharing its own experience, its engagement with partner countries is more than just about financial support. It is also about solidarity. Solidarity is how we understand and carry out our individual responsibilities for the sake of the greater good. Presently, it also means acknowledging and supporting the work of those who are at the front lines of the health crisis to keep us safe; doctors, nurses and care workers, in Jordan and around the world, put themselves in the path of the COVID-19 virus every day to protect our health. Their humility, hard work and strength are a shining light in the face of this crisis.
In these challenging times, the Jordanian government made the commitment to place the health and well-being of its people above all else. Its quick and rigorous response to the crisis has left us feeling safe and reassured. The fight against COVID-19 does not, however, fall on the government alone; by its side is a compassionate and responsive Jordanian population who has dutifully followed the Government's guidance, and has taken individual responsibility to contain the spread of the virus and protect their community. The cooperation and solidarity between the Jordanian Government and population in the fight against COVID is inspiring; it shows that if we all pull together, we will be better equipped to overcome this crisis more quickly and more effectively. And Jordanian solidarity has gone beyond its national boundaries: appreciative of what it means to receive assistance, Jordan has graciously shared personal protection and medical equipment with those facing shortages, in the region and beyond. This however, does not come as a surprise, Jordanians have for years extended their solidarity to the refugee communities they are hosting and this has not changed during the pandemic
On our part, as Team Europe, we will continue to work hard with our partners to make sure that we tackle the impact of COVID-19 together. In order to build a coordinated international front against the virus, we need to act as one. On this day, we remember and celebrate a founding principle of European unity, solidarity. It is the same principle that presented pragmatic solutions to rebuild Europe seven decades ago, and it remains the principle that must guide our path to recovery today.