Published: Wed, 04 March 2020
Seán Kelly MEP has urged EU institutions and leaders to prioritise public health concerns first and foremost, but also to be mindful of the economic impact coronavirus may have on small to medium sized businesses and farmers. The Ireland South MEP and Leader of Fine Gael in the European Parliament said made the comments as possible coordinated economic measures to support and boost the European economy are being considered at European level.
Speaking from Brussels, Mr Kelly said: “While the health of our citizens must be an absolute priority and the containment of the spread of coronavirus during these colder months especially, we also need to be on alert and prepared to deal with any economic impact it will have on global trading, food prices, and on the day-to-day business of SMEs in the most affected areas of Europe.”
His comments follow a warning about coronavirus from the OECD this week saying that the world economy was at risk. The Organisation cut this year’s growth forecast for the eurozone to 0.8% from 1.1%. It stated that if the impact of the coronavirus is longer-lasting and more intensive, then a further drop in global growth could push several economies into recession, including Japan and the euro area.
“Global growth is expected to slow and supply and demand issues are being experienced. it is also inevitable that in certain local economies particularly affected, SMEs will inevitably lose business as people stay at home and are not spending, not dining out, as much as they normally would in addition to a decline in tourism”, Mr Kelly said, a Member of the Parliament’s Trade Committee.
However, Mr Kelly said that a calm, measured response was essential: “We hope that we can contain the spread of the virus as much as possible of course with sensible precautions, but it is always best to be prepared in any case.”
MEP Kelly added that the economic impact of coronavirus will serve to highlight just how dependent Europe, and indeed Ireland, is on global markets and trade.
EU finance ministers are expected to discuss the situation by teleconference on Wednesday, while a meeting of Finance Ministers from Eurozone countries is scheduled for 16 March.