EU allocates €140 mln for EaP states, redirects use of €700 mln to ease coronavirus impact on economy

  • EU says that it will help Eastern Partnership states to cope with coronavirus challenges. Photo: shutterstock., 30 Mar 2020 - 16:32, Tbilisi,Georgia

The European Commission has allocated €140 million to purchase medical devices and medical personnel equipment in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

The commission will also redirect the use of existing instruments worth €700 million to help mitigate the economic and social impact of coronavirus in the Eastern Partnership countries. 

These are very difficult times not only for the EU, but for our partner countries as well. We are doing all we can to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on human lives and livelihoods. We are responding both to the immediate needs of the health systems, as well as longer term needs to the most vulnerable groups in society and small and medium-sized enterprises, which are the backbone of the economies in the six countries,” Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi said.

An official statement reads that the European Commission will respond to immediate needs by supporting the supply of medical devices and personal equipment, such as ventilators, laboratory kits, masks, goggles, gowns, and safety suits in the EaP countries. 

The European Commission is working with the World Health Organisation (WHO), and is deploying €30 million to ensure these necessary supplies are jointly purchased and effectively distributed to the health systems of the six countries in the coming weeks. In addition, the funds will support national health administrations to train medical and laboratory staff and carry out awareness raising measures to the wider population.

According to the statement the commission has also made available more than €11.3 million in small grants to civil society organisations. These funds are already responding to immediate needs, through the ongoing regional “Rapid Response Mechanism”, such as supporting local schools with distance learning. 

By the summer, and as part of this package, the commission will launch the “Eastern Partnership Solidarity Programme” which will target the most affected parts of the populations through civil society support and notably sub-grants to smaller, local organisations.

Mitigating the socio-economic impact of the outbreak

The statement says that the Commission is working closely with International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and financing institutions from EU member states as TEAM EUROPE providing a coordinated European response for the real economy, including SMEs, in particular through:

  • Launching of a new support programme of €100 million to help SMEs, including self-employed and others to easily access credit and boost their businesses after the crisis;
  • Facilitating, simplifying, accelerating, and reinforcing €200 million worth of existing credit lines and grants to SMEs in local currency including through its EU4Business Initiative;
  • The  EU has mobilised its major de-risking instrument the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD), worth a total of €1.55 billion, with €500 million being made available for the EU's neighbourhood. This will rapidly provide liquidity in the EU's neighbourhood, including through working capital, trade finance, or moratoria on debt service. This support is in addition to the ongoing macro financial assistance support to partners, including Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
  • The Commission also stands ready to provide assistance through TAIEX, its peer to peer instrument, by using EU member states expertise, experience and examples of good practices on assessing emergency preparedness response scheme and health systems.