By: Kebba AF Touray
The European Commission has set out plans for a robust and targeted EU response to support partner countries’ efforts in tackling the coronavirus pandemic with 15.6 billion Euros.
The EU’s collective action will focus on addressing the immediate health crisis and resulting humanitarian needs, strengthen partner countries’ health, water and sanitation systems and their research and preparedness capacities to deal with the pandemic, as well as mitigate the socio-economic 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. The EU together with its partners, are making sure that the substantial EU funding already allocated to them, is strategically targeted to deal with the impact of coronavirus.
This development was disclosed in a press release issued by the EU last week, in line with its global response to fight the pandemic.
The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, said: “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, can we 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 to the World Health Organization to assist the most vulnerable countries.”
EU High Commissioner and Vice-President Josep Borrell adds: “The coronavirus pandemic requires united, global action in response to curb its spread. 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 to our citizens, we also need to assist our partners in our direct neighborhood and beyond, to address the impact it will have on their livelihoods, stability and security because 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 only way forward for a true global agenda for the future.”
Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen also explained that as long as the coronavirus threatens lives somewhere, the European continent is not safe; that this is the core of international cooperation and partnerships; that we need to work together in order to tackle our shared challenges. Urpilainen said the European Commission stepped up and leads with this significant global response package of more than €15.6 billion to jointly work with ‘‘our’’ partners, particularly in Africa, for a safer future for ‘‘us’’ all.
Meanwhile, Janez Lenarčič, the EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, warned that the world faces what could become the biggest humanitarian crisis in decades; that the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the most fragile countries, migrants and the most vulnerable people is likely to be dramatic; that this is particularly the case in the confined and often insalubrious settings of refugee and internally displaced people camps, which is why they need to respond vigorously to the public’s health emergency needs and to make sure humanitarian actors continue to have access to carry out their life-saving assistance and to support transport and logistics for key humanitarian operations.
The Release states that from the overall support package, €3.25 billion is channeled to Africa, including €1.19 billion for North African countries neighboring continental Europe.
According to the EU, it is securing €2.1 billion for the South, €962 million for Eastern partner countries and €800 million for the Western Balkans and Turkey.
“In addition, the overall package includes another €1.42 billion in guarantees for Africa and the neighborhood from the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD). The EU will support Asia and the Pacific with €1.22 billion and another €291 million will go for the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific regions. €918 million will support our partners in Latin America and the Caribbean and €111 million goes to support oversees countries and territories,” the Release further states.
“Delivering the EU global response package in practice, €502 million for Emergency response actions will focus amongst others, to provide immediate support to the Response Plans of the World Health Organization and the United Nations as well as to the appeal of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in order to boost emergency preparedness and response in countries with weaker health systems and those dealing with humanitarian crises,” the Release adds; that the EU will also provide immediate humanitarian support in affected countries in particular in health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and logistics, support increased production in Europe of personal protective equipment and medical devices to meet urgent needs in Europe and partner countries, organize the supply of in-kind assistance to affected countries through the Union of Civil Protection Mechanisms and provide guarantee and liquidity provisions to local institutions and Companies.
The Release concludes that countries negotiating their accession can apply for the EU Solidarity Fund. €2.8 billion will go to support equal access to health systems for migrants, refugees and host communities and €12.28 billion will address the economic and social consequences of the continent amongst others.