European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday the bloc previously experienced economic slowdowns but the economy has never come to a standstill as it has in the past three months due to COVID-19.

Von der Leyen spoke at a Plenary Session of the European Parliament where she announced the EU economy and society will open carefully and gradually.

Supply chains are broken because of the coronavirus, she said, and demand is at the point of collapse.

She acknowledged that member nations have varying capacities to combat the pandemic and said countries and regions with service oriented economies, such as tourism, have suffered more from the pademic.

Von der Leyen pointed out that a planned COVID-19 economic rescue package will be integrated into the EU’s budget for 2021-2027.

EU Council President Charles Michel urged “member states to reopen EU internal borders as soon as possible.”

He emphasized free movement in Europe can be carried out in a harmonious and responsible manner, and noted opening borders is vital for EU economies and tourism.

*Writing by Dilara Hamit in Ankara

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