European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has been forced to ditch plans to lead the effort against coronavirus after failing to unite the bloc behind a single proposal. Brussels officials had hoped to present a coronavirus “roadmap” for the EU27 to follow, however, in recent days several EU nations have outlined their own plans to end the COVID-19 lockdown. Austria, the Czech Republic and Denmark have all announced they will put an end to restrictions this month.
Meanwhile worst-hit areas such as Italy, Spain and France may not yet be fully over peak of the virus and will maintain current measures.
Earlier today the EU Commission’s chief spokesman, Eric Mamer said on Wednesday officials would “focus on the roadmap to exit, which will be adopted tomorrow”.
The proposals were then set to be followed by a press conference by Ms von der Leyen.
However, in a dramatic turn of events, Mr Mamer told POLITICO that the plan and media briefing has been postponed until after the Easter holidays.
One senior diplomat said: “We criticised them for not being able to consult this with member states in an appropriate way.”
The lack of a united plan in Europe has caused a number of officials to hit out at EU leaders who are considering lifting restrictions.
One Commission official said: “If anything these restrictive measures have only begun to show proper results.
“It is of the essence now that member states persist a few weeks more and then gradually start to relax them.
“Exit steps need to be smart and coordinated as much as possible throughout Europe.”
On Monday Austria became the first EU nation to announce it would begin loosening lockdown measures.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said from April 14 all non-essential shops of 400 square metres or less can start trading again.
They would be followed by all shops and shopping malls on May 1.
Mr Kurz said: “We reacted faster and more restrictively than in other countries and could, therefore, avoid the worst.
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“But this fast and restrictive reaction now also gives us the possibility to come out of this crisis more quickly.”
Denmark Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced daycare centres and schools will re-open on April 15.
On Austria and Denmark, EU commission spokesman Mr Mamer said: “We do not have yet a fully-fledged analysis of these strategies, but what I can already say is that we understand that these strategies are very gradual, will be implemented step-by-step.”
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