On 11 March Coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Almost three months after the first reported cases of infections in Wuhan (China), the outbreak of the new virus has taken a cross-border dimension that is seriously affecting global health security and economy.
Working in close cooperation with the WHO and EU Member States, the European Union is taking its responsibilities. Member States of the EU are taking clear, tough measures, based on the best available scientific expertise. We also stepped up our coordination among Member States, first and foremost to deal with the health aspect of the crisis, which is the most urgent.
What is the EU doing against Coronavirus within its borders?
“We will use all the tools at our disposal to make sure the European economy weathers this storm”, said the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, after the EU leaders’ videoconference on the response to the Coronavirus outbreak held on 10 March.
That day, the Commission received a mandate to further step up its response on all fronts and coordinate Member State actions. As a result, the EU has launched a “Corona Response Investment Initiative” that will mobilize up to €37 billion to support national health care systems, SMEs, labour markets and other vulnerable parts of economies.
In addition to this, the Commission has adopted a Temporary Framework that allows Member States to use the full flexibility foreseen under State aid rules to support the economy in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak. This ensures that sufficient liquidity remains available to businesses of all types and to preserve the continuity of economic activity during these difficult times.
Another important measure is the creation of a strategic rescEU stockpile of medical equipment (such as ventilators and protective masks) to help EU countries in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will count with an initial EU budget of €50 million.
The European Commission has also launched an advisory panel on COVID-19 composed of epidemiologists and virologists from different Member States to formulate EU guidelines on science-based and coordinated risk management measures.
In order to support urgently needed research, the EU will allocate €140 million of public and private funding for promising research projects on vaccines, diagnosis and treatment.
All these efforts are coordinated through the Coronavirus Response team launched on 2 March, which is composed of five commissioners: Janez Lenarčič, who is in charge of crisis management, Stella Kyriakides, in charge of health issues, Ylva Johansson, for border-related issues, Adina Vălean, in charge of mobility, and Paolo Gentiloni, for macroeconomic aspects.
Original source: European Commission
Published on 24 March 2020