Basque Government rejects the UN's "one-size-fits-all" solutions to the COVID crisis and defends adapted responses

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The Basque Government's Secretary of Foreign Action, Marian Elorza, participates in the European Committee of the Regions

At a forum organised by the UN under the motto "Local Action for Global Commitment. Inclusive, resilient and green response and recovery from COVID-19 at the local level," the Secretary General of Foreign Action of the Basque Government and member of the European Committee of the Regions, Marian Elorza, defended that "one-size-fits-all" solutions to this issue must be refused, as "adapted" responses are required.

Last Tuesday night, Elorza virtually participated in the fourth "Local Action for Global Commitments" event under "Local 2030. Locating Sustainable Development Goals," organised by the United Nations from its headquarters in New York.

The event included two panels, focused on the responsibilities of local governments during response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and on the importance of inclusion and sustainability to guide local recovery from the crisis.

The representative of the Basque Executive branch and the European Committee of the Regions participated on the panel "Local Response and Recovery from the COVID-19 Outbreak," where she highlighted that "when adapting measures to a given reality, regional and local governments have a key role to play."

"We are closer to citizens and the economic fabric of our region. Oftentimes, we are the only level of government responsible for a series of public policies," she added, noting that the Basque Government is "totally responsible" for healthcare, education, social welfare and economic promotion policies.

After mentioning that COVID-19's impact has not been equal everywhere, and that "it is obvious that differences arise region-by-region," she stated that the pandemic had a "heavy" impact on the Basque Country, although the situation is currently "under control."

She also reminded attendees that, in order to tackle the socioeconomic consequences of the pandemic, the Basque Government, from the start, approved an emergency response plan. "The COVID-19 Fund, valued at 1.5 billion euros, encompasses a series of instruments with a three-fold focus: reinforcing the Basque Healthcare system, supporting people and families (maintaining social cohesion) and supporting our economic fabric, especially SMEs and liberal professions," she explained.

Additionally, Elorza declared to the UN that institutional stability is "fundamental" to the success of the recovery phase, and deemed it "essential" to build greater unity amongst institutions and social and economic actors.

"Our main concern is to define a new Recovery and Employment Plan. A shared strategy that prioritises more and better employment and inclusive growth, so no one is left behind," she said.

In this vein, she indicated that "the future of Basque society, for several generations to come, depends on how we manage to overcome this global crisis." "Along with more and better employment, inclusive growth and social cohesion, we must tackle a three-fold transition: technological-digital, energetic-environmental and the new social and healthcare transition: making progress in collective welfare, by closing different social gaps (wage, gender, generational) that undermine equal opportunity," she reported.

Lastly, she expressed her conviction that economic recovery would be attained, given that "in the past, the Basque Country has proven its ability to overcome the crises we have faced." "Although on this occasion we are facing an unprecedented situation, the proper attitude prevails. This means a desire to cross-check information, share general response lines and join forces, so we can emerge from this situation sooner, rather than later," she concluded.