Does far-right leader Marine Le Pen read the news? Apparently not. Or she does, but distorts the truth.
Asked about the coronavirus, Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right Rassemblement National party, told France Inter on Wednesday that “the EU has not said a word in this matter”.
“So, we do not know what its objective is. The only thing it has done is to condemn those who would consider controlling borders, even temporarily. This proves the strength of the ideology, almost the religion of borderlessness, of the EU leaders,” Le Pen said.
First, it is unclear what Le Pen meant when she referred to “EU leaders”: the European Commission, the Council, or the European Parliament?
Secondly, the European Commission, which seems to be more directly targeted, has actually been very outspoken on the issue, via its spokespersons, or its press releases.
In practical terms, the Commission set up the civil action mechanism to help repatriate EU citizens at the end of January. It recently released €232 million funds and called for coordination between the EU member states to tackle the critical situation.
Health remains a national competence and the European Commission has been pushing the member states to coordinate and inform Brussels constantly about the developments.
But an EU official told EURACTIV that the executive is faced with a fragmented system across Europe, as member states have different internal coordination structures to address the coronavirus situation.
The Commission has asked the member states to inform the executive about their stock of personal protection equipment such as masks. EURACTIV has learnt that some member states do not even know their stocks while others do not share information due to national security risks.
While the Commission opposed the closure of borders, it said any border measure should be taken after coordination among member states. Besides, no EU member state has expressed the need to do so, and in any case, EU member states remain sovereign when it comes to border issues.
“The solution now is not a vaccine or the closure of borders, but well-informed citizens from doctors and the activation of protocols on a national and local level,” an EU official told EURACTIV.com. Therefore, the Commission is trying to put together different pieces as member states alone will not be able to contain the virus if it spreads further.
Le Pen should be aware of the fact that France, together with Germany and Austria, has helped China significantly since the very beginning, especially when it comes to personal protection equipment, thanks to EU coordination.
EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides recently referred to a xenophobic threat which “misleads citizens and puts into question the works of public authorities”. That is exactly what Le Pen is doing. Her fake news can only help the coronavirus spread more rapidly.
(EURACTIV.fr – Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos | EURACTIV.com)