Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) spoke to members of the media before the start of the government’s informal weekly meeting, the so-called evening class, at the House of the Estates in Helsinki on 4 November 2020. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)


PRIME MINISTER Sanna Marin (SDP) says the European Union must work together more resolutely and effectively to overcome the coronavirus pandemic.

“We must decide together that we will overcome the virus and adopt strong enough measures to make it happen,” she wrote in a guest contribution published on Thursday by Politico, an influential political journalism outlet based in the United States.

Marin reminded that the pandemic is placing an enormous pressure on health care systems across the 27-country bloc, adding to the urgency of containing the virus. The member states, she underlined, should not place their hope exclusively on a vaccine, as even if a safe and viable one becomes available reaching comprehensive coverage will take time.

“Going forward, the primary responsibility for public health will continue to lie with the member states, but in an integrated Europe, a member state that has succeeded in halting the spread of the disease will not be protected unless we are all successful. Promoting a common and effective strategy is therefore the most important task of the European Union.”

A solid foundation for the effort, she estimated, is the test, trace, isolate and treat strategy proposed by the World Health Organization. Extensive testing across the union is a necessity for implementing the strategy successfully, as is the widespread adoption of affordable and reliable rapid tests.

EU member states should also step up their efforts to promote the adoption of their contact-tracing and ensure they are compatible with each other. Koronavilkku, the app launched in Finland, has already been installed by roughly a half of the population, she highlighted.

Marin pointed out that the travel restrictions introduced by several countries cannot be lifted safely without the adoption of passenger testing requirements, mutual recognition of test results, and effective and uniform quarantine rules.

“We can improve the safety of commuting, which is necessary in many places, by introducing testing at workplaces. We need a common, EU-wide vision on the duration of quarantine,” she said.

“In cases where travelling requires a negative test result, we must develop an international, secure and digital solution for collecting data on whether a passenger has already contracted the disease or, in the future, possibly a vaccination certificate.”

Citizens across the EU, she added, should continue to limit physical contact and shift to remote work to the largest extent possible.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT