Discussing COVID-19 crisis management practices and current social situation of the Baltic states

On 5 June, digital meeting of the Health, Welfare and Family Committee of the Baltic Assembly was held.

The digital meeting was attended by members of the Committee and Presidium, Estonian Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik, Latvian Minister of Health Ilze Viņķele, Lithuanian Vice Minister of Health Kristina Garuolienė, Latvian State Secretary of the Ministry of Welfare Ingus Alliks, Latvian Head of European Affairs and International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Health Līga Timša and Estonian Chief Specialist of European Union Affairs and International Co-operation Department of the Ministry of Social Affairs Agnes Alajõe.

During the meeting, governmental representatives informed about the lessons of the crisis regarding healthcare and pointed out the weaknesses. Also, during the meeting participants discussed the current situation in the region and national responses regarding social and employment aspects. Parliamentarians stressed the need for the Baltic states to work more actively together, thus ensuring better exit of the crisis.

Chair of the Committee Urmas Espenberg stressed that crisis revealed weaknesses in cooperation of the Baltic states. “In the beginning of the crisis our countries were struggling to get situations under control internally. There was no systematic information exchange in the Baltics, no coordination at borders and no joint procurement of emergency medical supplies,” said Chair, adding that Baltics are not a special case, as COVID-19 has demonstrated that Europe was not prepared for major pandemics.

In 2018-2019, the Health, Welfare and Family Committee had on the agenda cooperation in disaster prevention, crisis management and civil protection. Recommendations were given to the governments of the Baltic states; however, they did not have enough time to implement them. Espenberg noted said that work of the Baltic Assembly must be continued. “We need to learn from this crisis and eliminate cooperation gaps in areas related to crisis management,” added Chair of the Committee.

Espenberg noted that pandemic and crisis have negative impact on the Baltic States, so there is a need to elaborate an ambitious and coordinated approach. “We need to envisage post-crisis measures to reduce negative impact on labour market, social sphere and employment,” said Espenberg.

During the meeting, Members of the Health, Welfare and Family Committee of the Baltic Assembly urged governments of the Baltic states to prepare a strategy for possible second wave of COVID-19.

During the meeting of the Health, Welfare and Family Committee

Members of the Baltic Assembly during the meeting

© Photos by Secretariat of the Baltic Assembly