Apr 25, 2020

By Jeremy Logan

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The European Union is planning a major pledging conference early next month to help fill the World Health Organization’s funding gaps, and it expects Canada to play a key role.

Brice de Schietere, the EU’s acting ambassador to Canada, says the event was being planned before U.S. President Donald Trump announced last week he would pause WHO funding because of concerns that it mismanaged the early outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

De Schietere told The Canadian Press that no one wants to politicize the May 4th event but the effort to find a vaccine and fund the research needed to end the global pandemic means raising money to help the UN agency is more important than ever.

De Schietere, the charge d’affaires at the EU delegation’s Ottawa office, said the Canada-EU trade deal will play a key role in helping the post-pandemic economic recovery, as well as keeping essential medical supply chains open.

And he said Canada and the EU are co-operating closely to control the spread of misinformation about the pandemic, which he said has resulted in more than 120 fake news stories that are aimed at undermining the European response to the crisis.

De Schietere steered clear of mentioning Trump directly, but he emphasized that Canada is the EU’s closest partner in the world right now, and that their transatlantic alliance is focused on bolstering the multilateral trade, health and political organizations to battle the pandemic.

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