Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defence, Philippe Goffin, today took part in the EU Foreign Affairs Council. Two important issues were addressed by Belgium and its partners: the response to the COVID-19 crisis and the situation in Ukraine.
Minister Philippe Goffin first of all underlined the joint efforts made at European level to bring back nationals. “Concerning the COVID-19 situation, the joint effort led by the member states and the institutions has enabled the return of 500,000 European citizens, i.e. 90% of those who were temporarily stranded abroad. Belgium participated intensively in this operation. The European coordination that has been set up during this crisis demonstrates the capacity of Member States to jointly find solutions to major problems.”
Minister Goffin also reaffirmed his support for the WHO. “Belgium believes that the WHO is doing good and crucial work. In the midst of this pandemic, our country considers that it is more important than ever to support the organisation as well as possible and to work side by side to face this crisis. Our country will be considering, in consultation with the WHO in the coming weeks, how to shape our additional support”.
The European Foreign Ministers also discussed the Team Europe programme launched by the EU on 8 April. This €20 billion support programme aims to support the EU's partner countries in their fight against the COVID-19 virus and its consequences. The focus is on Central Africa, the Maghreb countries and the Balkan countries. “In the framework of COVID-19, the European High Representative, Josep Borrell, called for a humanitarian air bridge to Africa. Belgium underlined its recent efforts to that end and announced its full support for the proposal. It is in our common interest for Africa to be able to meet the challenges generated by this pandemic. Until everyone is out of the coronavirus crisis, we will all be vulnerable. Solidarity must be the answer.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Kingdom of Belgium – Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.