Statement on European solidarity and the protection of fundamental rights in the COVID-19 pandemic

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April 2020

European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE)

European Commission

The European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE) is an independent, multi-disciplinary body which advises on all aspects of the European Commission policies where ethical, societal and fundamental rights issues intersect with the development of science and new technologies.
The COVID-19 pandemic poses grave challenges for societies in Europe and all around the world. Many lives have already been lost, and many more people fear for their own health and that of their loved ones. Moreover, the economic impact of the pandemic has cost people their jobs and livelihoods, and has started to impact people’s wellbeing and mental health. The effects of this public health emergency will impact an entire generation.

Acts of solidarity which we are witnessing on a daily basis, in our neighbourhoods, cities and countries all around Europe, serve as a beacon of hope. Young people reach out to their elderly neighbours to help with errands, people provide support to strangers, and we unite in demonstrating our appreciation to those healthcare workers who shoulder a disproportionate burden of this pandemic in caring for patients. Individuals, organisations both public and private, across a diverse range of sectors are offering their expertise and capacity in the effort to quell this pandemic. At the same time, however, we observe the less edifying sight of people being stranded at national borders, politicians pitching the plight of refugees against the suffering of people in Europe and at times a lack of cooperation of Member States for the good of all.

Solidarity however becomes a very thin concept if we only apply it to those who are very much like us and if it comes with conditions and negotiations. It is most potent and meaningful when it extends unreservedly also to those who are different. It is more important than ever in this difficult time to uphold a form of solidarity that is inclusive of everyone, which recognises that respect is due to everyone, and not exclusive to those that live in our own town, region, or country.

Read the full statement at the European Commission