EU coronavirus war: France and Germany CONDEMNED for selfishness – ‘We don’t have enough!’

Top EU officials are urging members to put solidarity above national interests as the disease spreads. After an urgent meeting in Brussels, the health ministers from the 27 countries have confirmed that EU nationals are entitled to restrict exports of medical equipment, but warned that this decision could compromise the EU’s ability to limit the spread across the continent. Germany have banned the export of medical protection gear to ensure that local health workers have enough.

President Emmanuel Macron has announced France will introduce an export ban for face masks, and Czech health minister Adam Vojtech has halted disinfectant exports too.

Some EU members have been hit harder than others. Italy has had the biggest impact in Europe, with 148 dead.

German health minister, Jens Spahn, has urged his colleagues to try to understand why Berlin, Paris and Italy are acting as they are, given their bigger outbreaks.

He said: “I sometimes have the impression that some of you think: “Typical, once again the big guys, France, Germany and Italy are going their own way’.

“The reason we are upping the pressure is because the situation is different in our countries than the others.

“We are in a different phase than those countries who are still detecting and containing cases.

“Once the outbreak develops inside a country, measures at the border won’t help.”

EU crisis management commissioner Jenaz Lenarcic said: “There are legal grounds that make such measures possible, but these kinds of unilateral measures first have to be notified to the union.

“They have to be proportionate and even if they are legally possible they carry a risk of undermining our collective approach and our collective capacity to handle this crisis.

Dutch minister for medical care Bruno Bruins also chimed in, telling the crisis meeting: “In times of scarcity it is even more important to show solidarity, especially within the EU.

Ministers from several member states have agreed, and Belgian health minister Maggie de Block said: “I think that in fact we should show our solidarity, for example in the distribution of protective resources.

“There are two countries that block all exports and that’s not in the spirit of the EU.”

An EU spokesman confirmed that France and Germany had notified the EU prior to their decisions.

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French health minister Olivier Veran said: “We had seen prices multiplying and items being re-sold on the grey market, believe me, France will not be exempt from showing its duty and will for solidarity.’

Vojtech said supplies of protective suits and masks were limited and that European health workers should be first in line as production is ramped up.

He said: “We’re trying to negotiate with producers to supply the market, but production is limited. The demand is much higher than the supply worldwide. It is not easy.

“We don’t have enough protective masks. The problem is that the demand is much higher than the supply. A third of the world’s production of drugs is located in China and also in India.”

Coronavirus has killed more than 3000 people and infected nearly 100,000 in around 90 nations.

Europe has not yet been hit as hard as China, but the virus is spreading across the continent, with Italy having a major outbreak.

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