Written by Naja Bentzen and Jakub Przetacznik,
The true extent of the evolving coronavirus pandemic within the EU and across the world is still unclear, and the magnitude of the consequences is not known either. What is clear, however, is that the healthcare systems of many countries across the world are underfunded, and that even developed countries are severely challenged by the health crisis.
Moreover, the socio-economic impact of the crisis across the world will likely be grave, while the multiple crises related to the pandemic – including the global infodemic – may have lasting effects on the global geopolitical balance.
Against this backdrop, on 8 April 2020 the European Commission and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP) presented a proposal for a strong and targeted EU response to help partner countries cope with the pandemic, as outlined in a joint communication. In its response, the EU is adopting a ‘Team Europe’ approach, combining resources from the EU, its Member States and financial institutions.
The collective package of €15.6 billion is to help here and now, but also has a longer-term perspective. It will focus on addressing the pressing health crisis and resulting humanitarian needs, bolstering partner countries’ health, water and sanitation systems and their research and preparedness capacities to deal with the pandemic, as well as mitigating the impact on societies and economies. This should also help to reduce the risk of destabilisation.
The EU’s financial support for the countries covered by European Neighbourhood Policy will amount to €3.07 billion: €2.1 billion for the southern neighbourhood, and €962 million for the eastern neighbourhood. Moreover, €800 million will support the six western Balkan countries and Turkey.
As a long-standing major international aid contributor, the EU will promote and lead a coordinated multilateral response, together with the United Nations (UN), international financial institutions, and the G7 and the G20.
Read the complete briefing on ‘The EU’s response to coronavirus in its neighbourhood and beyond’ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.