Representatives of the European Union are expected to approve emergency funds on Thursday to cushion the bloc's economic slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic and to shore up affected airlines by preserving their landing spaces.
It will be the first remote vote of the European Parliament, after the suspension of sessions at headquarters due to the risk of transmission of coronavirus. Only a handful of members met in a plenary chamber in Brussels with the rest of more than 700 MEPs scattered under lockdown across Europe.
"From one day to the next, our lifestyle changed. Our streets were emptied. Our doors were closed. And we went from a daily routine to the struggle of our lives," said the head of the EU executive, Ursula von der Leyen , at the meeting. .
Exclusive: inside the hospital fighting against the coronavirus in Spain
Wearing white latex protective gloves, he asked the camera to vote a special fund of 37 billion euros ($ 40.6 billion) to allow the 27 member states to spend more to shore up their economies.
The legislation, to be voted on overnight, will also allow an existing natural disaster fund to support public health services across the EU.
The assembly is also due to the suspension of a rule requiring airlines to run most of their scheduled services or to lose their landing spaces, a move to give carriers some breathing room during the coronavirus pandemic.
After holding two trial votes earlier in the week, members of the EU legislative arm will print their ballots at home, scan or photograph their signed vote, and send it from their official email address to count.
"This virus cannot stop democracy," said David Sassoli, Italian President of the European Parliament.
Reuters news agency