Today, the European Commission and the High Representative set out plans for a robust and targeted EU response to support partner countries’ efforts in tackling the coronavirus pandemic. The EU’s collective action will focus on addressing the immediate health crisis and resulting humanitarian needs, strengthening partner countries’ health, water and sanitation systems and their research and preparedness capacities to deal with the pandemic, as well as mitigating the socioeconomic impact. To underpin these actions, the EU will secure financial support to partner countries amounting to more than €15.6 billion from existing external action resources. Together with our partners, we are making sure that the substantial EU funding already allocated to them is targeted to help them deal with the impact of coronavirus.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, commented: “The virus knows no borders. This global challenge needs strong international cooperation. The European Union is working tirelessly to fight the pandemic. We all know that only together we can stop the worldwide spread of the coronavirus. To that end, the EU will soon convene a virtual pledging event to help mobilize the necessary funding and support the World Health Organisation to assist the most vulnerable countries.”
High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell, added: “The coronavirus pandemic requires united, global action in response. The European Union and its Member States are playing their part in tackling this health crisis and its severe consequences – at home and abroad. While we are doing everything we can to provide support of our citizens, we also need to assist our partners in our direct neighbourhood and beyond to address the impact it will have on their livelihoods, stability and security, as their problems are our problems. This is a global fight that we will either win or lose together. Cooperation and joint efforts at the international level and multilateral solutions are the way forward, for a true global agenda for the future.”
Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, explained: ”As long as the coronavirus threatens lives somewhere, we are not safe. This is the core of international cooperation and partnerships. We need to work together in order to tackle our shared challenges. Today the European Commission steps up and leads with this significant global response package of more than €15.6 billion the joint work with our partners, particularly in Africa, for a safer future for us all.”
Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner, Olivér Várhelyi, said: “As part of our global response to the coronavirus pandemic we are redirecting over €3.8 billion of foreseen funds for the Western Balkans and our immediate neighbours to the East and to the South, to where their real needs are today: for urgent response to the health crisis, to strengthen the health systems and to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the pandemic. We share a continent and we can only succeed together.”
Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, warned: “We are facing what could become the biggest humanitarian crisis in decades. The impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the most fragile countries, migrants and the most vulnerable people is likely to be dramatic. This is particularly the case in the confined and often insalubrious setting of refugee and internally displaced people camps. That is why we need to respond vigorously to the public health emergency, make sure humanitarian actors continue to have access to carry out their life-saving assistance and support transport and logistic for key humanitarian operations
Team Europe package
The EU’s response follows a ‘Team Europe‘ approach, aimed at saving lives by providing quick and targeted support to our partners to face this pandemic. It combines resources from the EU, its Member States and financial institutions, in particular the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, to support partner countries and address their short-term needs, as well as the longer-term structural impacts on societies and the economy. The first Team Europe packages are already being implemented in the immediate neighbourhood: the Western Balkans, in the East and to the South.
The EU, as global actor and major contributor to the international aid system, will promote a coordinated multilateral response, in partnership with the United Nations, International Financial Institutions, as well as the G7 and the G20.
The European Union will continue to adapt its response to the evolving situation and focus on the most affected countries in need of health support, such as countries in Africa, the Neighbourhood, the Western Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa, parts of Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean. The EU’s response will focus on the most vulnerable people, including migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons and their host communities and integrate its strategic objectives set out in the Green Deal and the Digital Agenda.
From the overall package of €15.6 billion, €3.25 billion are channelled to Africa, including €1.19 billion for the Northern African neighbourhood countries.