Opening statement - Plenary, 13 may 2020 


Full speech of President Sassoli at the opening of the session

Yesterday we celebrated International Nurses Day and the WHO has declared 2020 as the year of nurses and midwifes.

Therefore, I would like to start today with a word of praise and thanks to the women and men in white coats who provide essential health services with dedication, courage and humanity in such difficult times.

It is our common duty to ensure they can do their jobs safely and efficiently.

We have already made hospital beds, staff, ventilators, and medical equipment available from one country to another thanks to the great work of our civil protection services. These acts of solidarity show the worth of our countries.

Today, we must reinforce the EU’s health powers. This is a promise that we must make to all European citizens.

Parliament has called for a European health response mechanism to prepare and respond, in a common and coordinated way, to any type of health crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need for a more proactive health policy, greater and deeper cooperation to build resilient and accessible health care systems, and, above all else, the need for greater solidarity in Europe.

70 years ago, on May 9 1950, the solidarity between six European countries paved the way for a Europe of peace and security.

A Europe that, Schuman argued, “will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.” This vision was the only way to guarantee a lasting peace and improve the lives of all.

It was an ambitious vision, but also pragmatic, based on the horrors of the Second World War and the sacrifices made to end it. 

After 75 years of peace, our common project still faces many challenges. The work is only at the beginning, but with women, men, young people, all committed to showing solidarity, our task will be easier.

We have a great responsibility before us and must live up to the expectations of European citizens. We must launch a great reflection on the Future of Europe, while providing immediate answers to the problems we face.

This crisis is teaching us that only together can we start again.