European Commission plans return to a new normal in Brussels
Thursday, 07 May 2020
Banner "Coronavirus Global Response" displayed on the front of the Berlaymont building in Brussels at the pledging conference on 4 may 2020, credit: EU, 2020
Belgium and most other EU member states have started to lift the lockdown restrictions in a number of phases.
The European Commission is planning the same for its staff that have been teleworking since 16 March.
The Commission’s joint road-map towards a common lifting of the measures states that the decisions should be based on epidemiological and economic indicators. As regards its own staff, the Commission relies mainly on the assessments of the host countries.
“Our action plan will allow a gradual return to a ‘new normal’ over the coming months, following the measures taken by the host member state and the recommendations of the relevant health authorities (WHO, ECDC) and our medical services and making sure that adequate safety and social distancing measures are in place,” a spokesperson told The Brussels Times at today’s virtual press conference.
The plan will consist of progressive phases. “On this basis and taking account of the situation in our host member states, we have decided that the measures currently in place at the Commission, e.g. all non-critical staff in teleworking mode, are extended at least until 25 May for its sites in Belgium and Luxembourg.”
The Commission underlines that it will only enter into the first phase of its action plan as soon as the local and health conditions allow it to do so. “This first phase, once triggered, will see a voluntary return to the office, with teleworking still remaining the norm.”
It was not clear if the Commission’s action plan has been coordinated with the other EU institutions in Brussels. An official at the European Parliament, currently teleworking, told The Brussels Times that she has not heard anything from the Parliament about it plans to return to a “new normal”.
The teleworking has protected the Commission staff with only 61 persons tested positive for COVID-19. “We have taken the necessary measures to protect those who have been in contact with the infected staff.”