10 things the European Union is doing to fight COVID-19
Covid-19: During these times of crisis, the EU and its member states are working together and helping each other, mobilising resources, ensuring supply of protective equipment, boosting research and supporting our global partners in need.
These are 10 concrete things the EU is doing to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, protect people and the economy and promote solidarity:
1. Slowing the spread of the virus
To help limit the transmission of the virus in Europe and beyond, the EU has closed its external borders to non-essential travel, while ensuring essential goods keep moving across the EU through the introduction of green lanes.
The travel of European citizens outside the EU is also discouraged.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control provides rapid risk assessments and epidemiological updates for Europeans.
2. Providing medical equipment
EU countries have speedy access to the first ever RescEU stockpile of medical equipment, such as ventilators and protective masks. In addition, the EU has launched four large international tenders allowing member states to make joint purchases of equipment and testing kits.
3. Promoting research for a vaccine
The EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme is funding 18 research projects and 140 teams across Europe to help find a vaccine quickly against COVID-19. The aim is to improve diagnostics, preparedness, clinical management and treatment. On 4 May 2020, the EU will organise an online pledging event to raise funds for a vaccine.
4. Repatriating EU citizens
More than 45,000 Europeans stranded around the world by the outbreak have been brought home thanks to the EU civil protection mechanism.
In addition, EU member states have come together in providing consular support and repatriating EU citizens from third countries. By mid-April 2020, the repatriation effort coordinated with EU support has reached more than 650.000 Europeans abroad and more than half a million citizens had been brought home, with efforts underway to reach and repatriate more Europeans.
Joint repatriation flights to bring back EU citizens can be co-financed from the EU budget at up to 75%.
5. Boosting European solidarity
The EU is facilitating the sending of medical teams through the EU Medical Corps so that teams from different member states can come to support the health-care systems hardest hit by the crisis.
In a spirit of solidarity, member states have come to each other’s aid. For example: Austria, Germany and Luxembourg have made their intensive care units available to Dutch, French and Italian patients in critical condition. Poland and Romania and Germany have sent teams of doctors to help treat patients in hospitals in Italy. Denmark is sending ventilators and field hospital equipment to Italy.
The EU also approved new rules allowing member states to request financial assistance from the EU Solidarity Fund to cover health emergencies. With the newly broadened scope of the fund, up to €800 million will be made available for member states this year to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
6. Supporting the economy
The EU is putting forward a €540 billion support package to tackle the crisis and support workers, businesses and member states. In addition, the European Central Bank is providing €750 billion to relieve government debt during the crisis, as well as €120 billion in quantitative easing and €20 billion in debt purchases.
7. Protecting jobs
The EU is making €37 billion from existing EU structural funds available to EU countries in 2020 to tackle the coronavirus crisis and support healthcare, businesses and workers.
To ensure employees can keep their job when companies run out of work due to the coronavirus crisis, the EU is working to roll out a temporary assistance (SURE) of up to EUR 100 billion to support national work schemes.
8. Helping the EU’s recovery
To help the EU recover from the economic and social impact of the pandemic, EU leaders are working on a massive plan to ensure growth and to support citizens, businesses and our economies in the years to come.
9. Supporting partners around the globe
The COVID-19 crisis is a global challenge that requires global solutions. The EU has set out plans to support partner countries’ efforts in fighting the virus providing €20 billion in financial support to address the immediate health crisis and resulting humanitarian needs.
The EU also supported the freezing of debt for developing countries, freeing much needed resources to spend on improving health systems and fighting the pandemic.
10. Fighting COVID-19 disinformation
All member states and the EU as a whole are threatened by the deliberate spread of fake news around the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU helps to detect, expose and challenge disinformation by providing accurate and updated information. It also works with online platforms to promote reliable sources, demote fake news and remove illegal content