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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)
News article11 June 2020Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations

Remarks by Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi following the video conference of the Eastern Partnership foreign affairs ministers

Check against delivery!Thank you very much, High Representative!Today we have had not only a very fruitful meeting with the Eastern Partner countries, but we have prepared also the ground for the leaders’ meeting - next week we have an Eastern...

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Check against delivery!

Thank you very much, High Representative!

Today we have had not only a very fruitful meeting with the Eastern Partner countries, but we have prepared also the ground for the leaders’ meeting - next week we have an Eastern Partnership Leaders’ Summit, also through videoconference.

As you can imagine, there were two topics to cover. First was the COVID-19 crisis response and the second was the future of the Eastern Partnership. As you may have seen, already in March, we came forward with the renewal of the Eastern Partnership and we have made it very clear, back then and today - I think all the Member States who took the floor have made this remark very strongly - that for Europe, the Eastern Partnership is and will continue to be a key priority.

During the pandemic, we have mobilised almost €1 billion in help. We have tried to do it as fast as we could. There were three strands of the work. First, for the immediate needs we have mobilised €80 million out of which we have been supplying and we continue to supply the medical equipment and the necessary equipment to fight the health crisis. Then we worked on to create resilience when it comes to the healthcare and the social system so that intensive care units and social assistance can be provided for the most vulnerable. But also we started to provide help for the small and medium-sized enterprises so that we keep the economy running and we help these countries to keep their economies float and to limit the economic damages this crisis could create.

When I talk about the future, and when we have been discussing this, I think we had agreement almost by all participants that, after the COVID-19 pandemic, resilience, which is already in our document, is going to be the key theme of the future of our partnership with the Eastern countries. Resilience especially when it comes to the economy, or when it comes to connectivity, when it comes to associating the partners with our key policy objectives, like the Green deal or the Digital Europe initiative.

For that we need to create first a healthy economy. I think we have confirmation from their side that they also consider this to be a priority. In that of course transport and energy networks are going to be key and also digital networks that will boost rapidly the economic recovery.

As you may have seen already, solidarity is in the making also in other neighbourhood countries, the Western Balkans and the Southern neighbourhood countries. But I want to underline that we have been able to help the Eastern Partner countries very well, very fast. I can give you figures if you are interested on the actual delivery we made and we continue to make there, and I think this only shows that we have been on top to help all neighbourhoods surrounding us.

Thank you!

Link to the video: