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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations

EU response to the coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus knows no borders

The EU's response follows a ‘Team Europe' approach, aimed at saving lives by providing quick and targeted support to our partners to face this pandemic. It combines resources from the EU, its Member States and financial institutions, in particular the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Neighbourhood East

As part of its global response to the coronavirus outbreak, the European Commission stands by its Eastern partners and has mobilised a support package of more that €2.5 billion for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

The EU is providing over € 131 million to respond to the health crisis and over €950 million in the short and medium term to support the social and economic recovery of the region. In addition, macro-financial assistance worth €1.45 billion has also been provided to Ukraine (€1.2 billion), Georgia (€150 million) and Moldova (€100 million).

To respond to the COVID-19 health crisis, the EU and the World Health Organisation (WHO) are working jointly on the Solidarity for health initiative, which aims to ensure the delivery of necessary medical supplies and support national health administrations in training medical and laboratory staff, as well as raise awareness of the wider population. To date, over 12 million pieces of personal protective equipment and more than 48,000 test kits have been delivered.

The joint EU-WHO action to support the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination in the Eastern Partnership aims to support the implementation of partners’ vaccine deployment plans, provides vaccine storage equipment and strengthens healthcare workers capacity and awareness raising about COVID-19 vaccination.

The EU is also funding a Team Europe mechanism, coordinated by Poland, to provide vaccines from EU Member States to Eastern Partnership countries. The EU Civil Protection Mechanism is supporting EU Member States in the delivery of some of their bilateral donations of COVID-19 vaccines to Eastern Partnership countries. Countries have also received vaccines through the COVAX Facility, to which Team Europe contributes €3 billion, making it one of the main contributors.

To support the region in tackling the socio-economic consequences of the crisis, the EU is supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and self-employed across the region with a support programme to access credit and boost their business. Existing credit lines and grants to SME’s in local currency are being accelerated through the EU4Business initiative.

In addition, the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) guarantee will help bring liquidity across the whole Neighbourhood and mitigate socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

Neighbourhood South

As part of its global response to the COVID-19 crisis, the EU has reconfirmed its solidarity with its partners in the Southern Neighbourhood and has mobilised a support package of over € 2.3 billion

EU’s financial support includes more than €1 billion to respond to the health crisis and €1.3 billion to support the socio-economic recovery both in the countries and at regional level in the medium to long-term.

To support partners in tackling the health crisis, the EU and the European Centre for Disease Control are implementing the EU Initiative for Health Security. This initiative focuses on capacity building for epidemiologists and health care staff in responding to health threats and supports cross border cooperation between the EU and partners on health security threats of common interest.

The  EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa - North Africa window, which plays a vital role in providing assistance to vulnerable local communities, refugees and migrants, adopted a regional emergency response facility to COVID-19 in North Africa focusing on the most vulnerable populations. EU support provides emergency medical assistance, distribution of hygiene kits, support to basic health services and infrastructures, social protection and support to victims of sexual and gender-based violence. Programmes for Libya aim to improve the resilience of both Libyans and migrants, covering activities related to protection of the most vulnerable, community stabilisation and COVID-19 specific activities.

The  EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis has redirected activities within ongoing programmes in the health and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sectors, and adopted an additional package for refugees from Syria and vulnerable persons in Jordan and Lebanon to fight the pandemic. This package includes additional emergency health services such as medical assistance of isolation centres and mental health support, essential water, sanitation and hygiene services, and access to health and social protection services for Palestine refugees from Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

Partners in the Southern Neighbourhood have received vaccines through the COVAX Facility, supported by Team Europe. The EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis has also allocated funding for Jordan and Lebanon to procure COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility. The EU Civil Protection Mechanism has supported bilateral donations of vaccines by EU Member States.

To address the socio-economic impact, EU cooperation programmes have been reoriented to provide direct support to the budgets of partner countries to help them face the social and fiscal costs of the crisis. Regional economic programmes help governments and the private sector in addressing the impact on investment and employment and in promoting innovation.

Strengthened regional financing facilities support small and medium-sized enterprises, provide immediate liquidity, more local currency funding and trade finance through actions implemented International Financial Institutions and International Organisations.

Western Balkans and Turkey

Western Balkans

During the COVID-19 pandemic the European Union is standing by the Western Balkans, and the European Union is the region’s first partner in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. 

We are associating the Western Balkans to the EU’s response in an unprecedented way. We are sharing information from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the EU’s Early Warning and Response system. All Western Balkans partners have been invited as observers in the EU Health Security Committee. Governments have been invited to join the EU’s Joint Procurement Agreement for medical equipment and countries negotiating their accession can also apply for the EU Solidarity Fund.

The EU has mobilised a support package of over €3.3 billion to address the health crisis and the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Within this package, the EU is providing almost €42 million to procure medical equipment and set up a long term Economic and Investment Plan for the region’s recovery. A total of €88 million supports the needs of the health and water sectors. Socio-economic recovery from the consequences of the pandemic is funded with almost €762 million from various EU programmes. In addition, macro-financial assistance worth €750 million and a €1.7 billion package of financial support from the European Investment Bank is being provided.

To help in overcoming the health crisis, the EU is nearing completion of the delivery of the immediate emergency support, with more than 13.75 million pieces of protective equipment and medical supplies. Some examples of medical supplies: tests and calibration material for more than 668,00 tests, 400 ventilators, 300 ICU beds and 223 monitors, 196 pieces of large medical equipment (ventilators, ECGs, echographs, x-ray machines, ultrasounds, CT scanners), 81 ambulances, over 250,000 smaller medical devices and supplies (thermometers, catheters, syringes, infusion pumps, defibrillators, etc.), and 153 freezers and refrigerators for vaccines. This support is complemented by protective equipment and items for vulnerable groups delivered through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

The EU has allocated funding to ensure availability and access to reliable, effective and EU authorized COVID-19 vaccines. A part of this funding can also be used to cover the costs of some of the equipment necessary for the vaccination campaigns. In collaboration with WHO, the EU is helping to prepare partners for the effective reception and administration of COVID-19 vaccines, including those received from COVAX and through the EU vaccine sharing mechanism with EU Member States. By early December 2021, the EU, as Team Europe, has also donated around 4 million COVID-19 vaccines to the region.

To support socio-economic recovery, the EU is channelling funding through up to 70 local banks to help small and medium-sized enterprises in getting more flexible terms for repayments, or easier access to new loans, and to enable entrepreneurs to cope with the immediate effects of the crisis and thrive afterwards.

Through the European Investment Bank (EIB), the EU is also providing additional loans for public sector investments and further credit to enterprises, to help safeguard jobs for the many people working in small and medium-sized enterprises in the region.

Turkey

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic the EU has been standing by Turkey through several measures. The EU has mobilised more than €133 million for the response to the health crisis and the mitigation of the economic and social impact. Support is also largely being channelled through European and international financial institutions.

The EIB decided to provide €270 million in COVID-19 related operations in favour of Turkey, and the EBRD, in addition to its other operations, approved a global €1 billion “Solidarity Package”. A large part of the EBRD’s investments in Turkey in 2020 and 2021 are linked to COVID-19 response: support to the financial sector for, and accelerating towards, an inclusive, resilient and green economy as per the lending to small and medium-sized enterprises and the ‘building back better’ agenda.

As part of the response to the health crisis, the EU has developed and validated positive control material for SARS-Cov-2 testing, and opened access to the EU Solidarity Fund.

The situation of the most vulnerable members in Turkish society, including refugees, is an issue of special concern for EU support to COVID-19 response in Turkey. Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees and migrants in the world (4 million people) and the EU has a special responsibility under the EU-Turkey Statement of March 2016. Under the Facility for Refugees, some €83  million are being mobilised to respond to COVID-19 related needs among refugees and the most vulnerable members of Turkish society.  The Commission has also extended the implementation deadline for projects under the Facility, and the implementing period of most IPA programmes.

In addition to the €6 billion already mobilised and fully committed under the Facility for Refugees, €535 million have been earmarked as humanitarian support in Turkey. These funds ensure the continuation of two EU flagship humanitarian projects until the end of 2021.

So far, Turkey has not requested any support from the EU in terms of vaccines. It is purchasing vaccines internationally and has released its own vaccine, TURCOVAC, at the end of 2021.

Turkey has successfully joined the EU Digital COVID Certificate scheme in August 2021, as one of the first third countries to do so. This means that the country’s vaccination certification scheme is now connected to the EU's system and that COVID certificates issued by Turkey will be accepted in the EU under the same conditions as the EU Digital COVID Certificate and vice versa.