İrem UZUN -TDO- The president of the European Commission has criticized EU member states for throwing up border controls to each other during the coronavirus pandemic. Ursula von der Leyen warned of “crucial equipment stuck in bottlenecks at borders for days” following the decisions to impose movement restrictions and export controls on vital medical equipment.

Her speech comes on the 25th anniversary of the EU’s passport less Schengen area, which was established in its current form on this day in 1995.  She told a relatively empty European Parliament that "the world has changed since the last time we met" and that the COVID-19 outbreak was a "turning point" for the 27-member bloc. "What we do now really matters...The very basis of the EU is going to be determined by the decision we make now," she said. In an impassioned speech, Von der Leyen criticized nations that had stopped exporting medical equipment to other nations or turned away from the pan-European response to the virus and towards narrow national interest. They had "looked out for themselves" when "Europe needed to be there for each other," she said. “History is looking at us at this moment,” she said.

Later on, she spoke about an EU stockpile of medical equipment, which was announced last week. "This is why we had to take matters into our own hands as far as we could to release these blockades,” she said. "It is why we are creating the first ever European stockpile of medical equipment, such as ventilators, masks and lab supplies". "It is why we took big steps to protect the availability of key supplies of equipment such as masks and protective clothing, by making them subject to an export authorization." She concluded her speech by saying "A successful European response can only be coordinated if our internal market and our borders work the way they should”.

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