EU-wide coronavirus cooperation is crucial, Polish PM says

Cooperation on the European Union forum is very important in fighting the coronavirus epidemic, Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki said in Prague on Wednesday, where he had attended a meeting with his Czech, Hungarian and Slovak peers.

Poland prompted the other three countries that make up the regional Visegrad Group (V4) to organise the Wednesday meeting in order to discuss current EU affairs, including coronavirus, migration and the EU budget.

At a press conference following the talks, Morawiecki thanked Czech PM Andrej Babis for hosting the meeting.

"We are aware that Poland has registered its first case of a patient infected with the coronavirus. We want to exchange various experiences," the head of Polish government said.

"Our procedures implemented several weeks ago worked fine, they proved efficient and I'm convinced that they will also prove as such also if there are more coronavirus cases," he said.

Morawiecki also mentioned Poland's initiative to organise a meeting of EU health ministers which will be held on Friday. The get-together will focus on the supply of medicines and equipment, as well as the threats resulting from reliance on a single supplier, he said.

Morawiecki said he had held a telephone conversation with European Council President Charles Michel and said the EU official was well aware of the risk the coronavirus epidemic involves, both for public health and economic growth.

On Wednesday morning, Poland reported its first confirmed case of coronavirus infection. The patient comes from the Lubuskie province, western Poland, and has recently returned from Germany. He is now in hospital in Zielona Gora, the province's biggest city.

The Czech Republic has identified five coronavirus cases so far, whereas the other two V4 members, Hungary and Slovakia, still have no infections.

The four prime ministers also discussed migration, especially the problems in Greece, whose border is under siege by thousands of migrants travelling across Turkey to reach the EU.

Morawiecki declared that Poland is ready to help Greece protect its borders, both by offering supplies and sending over border officers. His offer was matched by similar proposals from the other three heads of government.

The four prime ministers reiterated their support for a bigger EU budget, stressing that "an ambitious Europe needs an ambitious budget." V4 is part of the so-called Friends of the Cohesion group in the EU negotiations of the bloc's next seven-year budget. Some net payers to the EU coffers are seeking downsizing of EU spending, especially after the United Kingdom left the bloc.