“Maintaining social peace should be the goal of every government”

Martina Supports measures to save jobs in Slovakia Slovakia, Bratislava

COVID-19 severely impacted job security all across Europe, but people like Martina are working hard to support those most affected. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, her association has been highlighting the need for rapid action to help employers and entrepreneurs in difficulty, promoting and supporting those aiming to save jobs or reinforce companies. “Our common goal should be to maintain employment as much as possible,” she explains. “The threat of massive redundancies has never been so high and real. This is why we want social dialogue in Slovakia, which should be enabled at the national level.” Supporting employment is one of the objectives of the Next Generation EU recovery plan. It foresees EUR 31 billion in guarantees to provide European companies in the most affected sectors, regions, and countries with loans.

“Let's help those who can't help themselves”

Eva Runs a social enterprise employing disabled people Slovakia, Michalovce

“Let’s help those who can’t help themselves”. For Eva, the goal for her social enterprise was to integrate disadvantaged citizens and to improve their quality of life. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, she employed 100 disabled people and their jobs consisted of producing components for cars and electric motors. The pandemic changed everything. “Revenues fell by 70 %, which forced us to lay off 40 employees,” Eva explains. To avoid closure, the enterprise had to reinvent itself. Some employees decided to refocus their work on the production of protective veils. “We first sewed these for our own employees, and then we started addressing the needs of nearby companies and municipal authorities,” Eva recalls. Parliament has called for a new ambitious EU disability strategy, which would include recovery and mitigation measures to avoid people with disabilities becoming disproportionately affected by health crises such as COVID-19.

“Rather than sitting home, I thought we pilots should get together and start helping”

Roman Uses his skills as a pilot and his experience with matching algorithms to deliver medical supplies across the country. Slovakia, Bratislava

Not every plane in Europe got grounded during the confinement. In Slovakia for instance, over 80 pilots with their own private planes realised the Covid-19 outbreak was actually an opportunity to fly more. It wouldn’t be for recreational purposes though. This time, their flying time would serve the greater good. “One day we had 13 aircraft in the air. Our mission was to transport medical supplies to about 250 addresses in 120 minutes. Our “customers” included emergency units, firefighters, hospitals, the Red Cross or retirement homes”, Roman explained. His initiative started with a call for volunteers on Facebook and was ultimately green-lit by the Slovakian government. Dedicated software (made possible through Roman’s work as CEO of artman.eu) matches requests with available pilots using GPS and contacts them through the PILOTS4PEOPLE.EU platform.

“We need more help for entrepreneurs, especially for those who create jobs”

Jan Struggled to save his restaurant Slovakia, Zemplinska šírava

Since March, running a restaurant has been a tall order. Imagine having no income for almost two months while expenditures remain the same and, even as you reopen, you have to deal with extra investment and lower attendance. On 31 March, Jan was told to close down his restaurant and send his 10 employees home. Since the reopening, reservations have been down by 50%. “We need faster help for entrepreneurs, especially for those who create jobs,” Jan says. “SMEs create 80% of all jobs and need more support.” The European Parliament understands Jan's concerns. “Time is a luxury we cannot afford. We need to act urgently and courageously, as EU citizens, businesses and economies need an immediate response. Our citizens expect bold action. Now it is time for us to deliver", said Parliament President David Sassoli in his video conference address to EU leaders. Read more here.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to become a Slovak Red Cross volunteer”

Veronika Helps Slovaks who recently returned to the country as they go through their two-week quarantine Slovakia, Banská Štiavnica

COVID-19 has presented some European citizens with more free time than ever. For Veronika, this free time was a wake-up call. “I immediately realized this was my chance to become a Red Cross volunteer,” she explained. “I have only been a volunteer for a short while, but I do know that I want to keep it up after all this is over. It brings me tremendous joy to be able to help my community”. Veronika volunteers at one of the quarantine centres run by the Slovakian government, where Red Cross volunteers provide 24/7 assistance to citizens who have retuned to Slovakia within the past two weeks. She helps in their registration process, distributes meals, and provides other assistance as required. “You may not believe me, but I look forward to putting on my white protective suit! I love working with a team of wonderful colleagues who share my passion for helping people in challenging circumstances,” Veronika said.

“Protecting our health workers is the most important thing. We can't stop COVID-19 without them”

Lucia and Simon Created a civic platform to help frontline health workers and vulnerable people Slovakia, Bratislava

Lucia and Simon founded 'Kto Pomôže Slovensku' - 'Who Helps Slovakia' - to organise volunteers and collect donations for essential equipment for health workers. After only a month, they raised nearly 1 million euros from companies and individual donations. Medical staff and those working with vulnerable people (e.g. in assisted living facilities) received thousands of the items they needed thanks to the organisation - including face masks, ventilators, protective suits, and disinfectants. The initiative also supports psychological assistance centres for people of all ages. EU Member States, too, have been lending each other a helping hand. 26 have joined forces, with EU help, to make joint purchases of equipment, vaccines, and antivirals. While European citizens coordinate action in their countries, other European partners stand ready to support them in our common fight against coronavirus.