global, multilateral and EU-related measures to tackle COVID-19 and its consequences

eu’S RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

LAST UPDATED 21 July

20 July

Italy: EIB provides €300 million to Autonomous Province of Trento for sustainable projects and post-COVID-19 reconstruction | European Investment Bank

 

The EU bank is backing the Autonomous Province of Trento for all sustainable public sector projects and the economic recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the goal of the agreement signed today by the European Investment Bank (EIB), which will provide €300 million to the northern Italian province, with an initial tranche of €160 million already finalised.


In concrete terms, projects in the public infrastructure, energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, sustainable transport, urban development and renewal sectors together with investments in tackling and mitigating climate change will be eligible for financing. These will be joined by any projects of municipalities and public entities in Trentino that aim to alleviate the effects of the economic and social crisis caused by the pandemic and lay the groundwork for an economic recovery.


https://www.eib.org/en/press/all/2020-198-italy-eib-provides-eur300-million-to-autonomous-province-of-trento-for-sustainable-projects-and-post-covid-19-reconstruction

17 July

Ultra-low yields and COVID-19 crisis significantly affecting the European insurance sector | European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority

 

Today, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) published the report on the Impact of ultra-low yields on the insurance sector, including first effects of the COVID-19 crisis.


The ultra-low interest rate environment remains a key concern for the insurance market. It constitutes one of the most important sources of systemic risk for insurers for the future.


In addition to the low interest rate environment, the COVID-19 outbreak has severely affected macroeconomic and market conditions worldwide, increasing the likelihood of a “low for long” scenario with adverse implications for the insurance sector. As a result, insurers are significantly challenged in terms of asset allocations, profitability, solvency and business model adaptation.


The COVID-19 crisis has amplified these risks by increasing market uncertainty and risk premia. The combined impact of lower yields and increased market uncertainty has led supervisory authorities across Europe to take measures, allowing for flexibility and unburdening of the industry, at the same time providing guidance and calling for prudence.

 

https://www.eiopa.europa.eu/content/ultra-low-yields-and-covid-19-crisis-significantly-affecting-european-insurance-sector_en

16 July

Coronavirus: Macro-financial assistance agreement provides for €80 million disbursement to North Macedonia | European Commission

 

The Commission on behalf of the EU has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with North Macedonia to pave the way for the disbursement of €80 million in macro-financial assistance (MFA). This is the first MoU signed as part of €3 billion MFA package that the Commission proposed for ten enlargement and neighbourhood partners to help them limit the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.


The disbursement of the second and final instalment will be conditional on the implementation of the policy actions agreed between the EU and North Macedonia and set out in the MoU. Specifically, the MoU includes nine policy conditions related to strengthening fiscal governance and transparency, the fight against corruption, enhancing financial sector supervision, improving the business environment, and tackling youth unemployment. The assistance programme will be available for a period of 12 months.

 

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_1343

16 July

Coronavirus global response: EU Humanitarian Air Bridge to Haiti and new funding | European Commission

 

As part of the EU's global coronavirus response, an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flight will depart today from Liège, Belgium, to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The flight will deliver 72 tonnes of life-saving materials to supply EU-funded humanitarian partners.  This fully EU funded flight is the second of its kind to Haiti and is part of ongoing Air Bridge operations to critical areas of the world. It has been facilitated thanks to the collaborative efforts of France and the EU with the Haitian authorities.


Of this funding, €5 million is aimed at providing emergency food and cash assistance, targeted protection and advocacy activities, and disaster preparedness for vulnerable communities in Haiti. €10 million will complement national efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to people affected by the coronavirus.

 

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_1344

15 July

Covid-19: how the EU fights youth unemployment | European Parliament

 

Covid-19 could lead to the emergence of a "lockdown generation", as the crisis hits young people’s job prospects.  According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) the pandemic is having a "devastating and disproportionate" impact on youth employment, while the most recent figures show that young people face major obstacles in continuing training and education, moving between jobs and entering the labour market.

 

The Youth Employment Support Package consists of:

  • A reinforced Youth Guarantee

  • Improved vocational education and training

  • Renewed impetus for apprenticeships

  • Additional measures to support youth employment

 

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/society/20200709STO83004/covid-19-how-the-eu-fights-youth-unemployment

15 July

Stronger together: EU Agencies join forces to respond to COVID-19 | European Asylum Support Office

 

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, nine Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) agencies (CEPOL, EASO, EIGE, EMCDDA, eu-LISA, Eurojust, Europol, FRA and Frontex) have been supporting the Member States and EU institutions in meeting the unprecedented challenges resulting from the outbreak of the virus - each agency in its respective area of work, in both the short term and the long term.


During [the 9 July videoconference], the heads discussed the latest developments, including the fundamental rights implications of government COVID-19 measures, the quick adaptation of organised crime to the changing circumstances and the recent surge in drug use, domestic violence and child abuse.


To tackle these and other issues more effectively related to the protection of citizens and freedoms, there is a need for increased interagency cooperation in the field of digitalisation and for sustainable financial resources in the coming years.


https://www.easo.europa.eu/news-events/stronger-together-eu-agencies-join-forces-respond-covid-19

15 July

EIB approves € 16.6 billion for COVID-19 health response and economic resilience, climate, clean transport, energy and housing | European Investment Bank

 

€ 10.2 billion to help businesses and the public sector cope with the pandemic

  • This includes € 2 billion to support COVID-19 public health and healthcare investment across Italy and € 1.5 billion to help local authorities in France to better respond to the pandemic.

  • An additional € 1 billion was approved to strengthen the public sector response to COVID-19 in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia, € 900 million for public and private investment related to COVID-19 challenges across the Western Balkans and € 800 million for COVID-19 related business investment in Egypt.

  • Companies in Estonia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal and Slovakia most impacted by the pandemic will also be supported through new targeted credit lines.

  • [T]he EIB will also enable companies in North and sub-Saharan Africa, the Eastern Neighbourhood and southern Caucasus to access financing under a dedicated regional COVID-19 financing programme.

 

€ 1.9 billion to improve energy efficiency, cut emissions and increase energy access

  • Italy, Spain, Greece and North Macedonia: € 900 million of new green energy investment in Italy and Spain and backed a new cross border energy link between Greece and North Macedonia to reduce carbon emissions and phase out the use of lignite.

  • Mali, Madagascar: The EIB also approved financing to two new electricity interconnectors in Mali and Madagascar to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, increase energy access and increase the use of cheaper energy sources.

  • Bamako: In Mali the capital Bamako will be connected to the West Africa power pool and new sources of renewable energy from across the region.

  • Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico: Sustainable power generation will be strengthened under a new financing programme approved by the EIB.

 

Improving urban transport and green shipping

  • Krakow, Poland: Commuters and residents will benefit from cleaner and better public transport following EIB support for new investment in the city.

  • Kanpur, Egypt: € 1.1 billion of new support that will transform public transport in cities across Egypt and € 650 million for construction of two new metro lines with 30 stations in the Indian city of Kanpur.

  • Duisburg, Germany: River, rail and road logistics in Europe will be enhanced and emissions reduced by upgrading the Duisburg inland port, another project backed by the EIB today.

 

Improving urban development and social housing

  • Germany: Thousands of families will benefit from new energy efficient social housing investment in Germany and energy efficient housing across Kenya.

  • Barcelona: A new project to accelerate investment in sustainable projects in Barcelona will contribute to achieving the goal to cut per capita carbon emissions by half in the Catalan capital.

 

https://www.eib.org/en/press/all/2020-197-eib-approves-eur-16-6-billion-for-covid-19-health-response-and-economic-resilience-climate-clean-transport-energy-and-housing

10 July

Parliament to allow COVID-19 vaccines to be developed more quickly | European Parliament

 

Parliament today adopted a new Regulation by 505 votes to 67 and 109 abstentions, via the urgent procedure, that will allow COVID-19 vaccines and treatments to be developed more quickly.


Some COVID-19 vaccines and treatments already being developed may be defined genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and are thus covered by the relevant EU GMO Directives. As national requirements to assess the environmental risks of clinical trials on medicinal products that contain or consist of GMOs vary considerably across member states, a derogation from these rules is needed to avoid significant delay in developing life-saving vaccines and treatments.


https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20200706IPR82731/parliament-to-allow-covid-19-vaccines-to-be-developed-more-quickly

6 July

Commission and EIB provide CureVac with a €75 million financing for vaccine development and expansion of manufacturing | European Commission

 

European Investment Bank and CureVac sign €75 million loan agreement for the development and large-scale production of vaccines, including CureVac's vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2.


CureVac is a leading clinical stage biotechnology company in the field of messenger RNA (mRNA) technology with 20 years of expertise in developing and optimizing this versatile molecule for medical purposes.


CureVac's mRNA technology platform has shown potential in the clinical development and production of mRNA based vaccines and therapeutics. The Company's proprietary RNAoptimizer® platform aims to optimize the properties of mRNA medicines based on its three core pillars: protein design, mRNA optimization and mRNA delivery. The technology can be tailored to induce varying degrees of immune responses against specific protein antigens of choice, potentially providing potent prophylactic vaccines for the prevention of infectious diseases at a low dose, such as Rabies, as well as immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer. The technology can also be adapted to avoid immune activation for purposes of protein therapy and antibodies, thereby providing potential new therapeutic modalities for patients suffering from a vast range of diseases.


The EIB loan will support CureVac's activities to complete its new messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) production facility in Tübingen, Germany.


The transaction is financed under the Infectious Diseases Finance Facility of Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme for 2014-2020.


https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_1238

6 July

State aid: Commission approves Latvian fund to enable €100 million of liquidity and capital support to large enterprises affected by the coronavirus outbreak | European Commission

 

The European Commission has approved Latvian plans to set up a fund with a current target size of €100 million that will invest through debt and equity instruments in large enterprises active in Latvia affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework.


The Temporary Framework (...) provides for the following types of aid, which can be granted by Member States:

  • Direct grants, equity injections, selective tax advantages and advance payments…

  • State guarantees for loans taken by companies…

  • Subsidised public loans to companies (senior and subordinated debt)...

  • Safeguards for banks that channel State aid to the real economy…

  • Public short-term export credit insurance…

  • Support for coronavirus related research and development (R&D)...

  • Support for the construction and upscaling of testing facilities…

  • Support for the production of products relevant to tackle the coronavirus outbreak…

  • Targeted support in the form of deferral of tax payments and/or suspensions of social security contributions…

  • Targeted support in the form of wage subsidies for employees…

  • Targeted recapitalisation aid to non-financial companies, if no other appropriate solution is available.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_1272

6 July

State aid: Commission approves €150 million Austrian subordinated loan to compensate Austrian Airlines for damages suffered due to coronavirus outbreak | European Commission

 

The European Commission has found an Austrian €150 million subordinated loan (convertible into a grant) in favour of Austrian Airlines AG to be in line with EU State aid rules. The measure aims at partly compensating the airline for the damages suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak.

  • Direct grants, equity injections, selective tax advantages and advance payments…

  • State guarantees for loans taken by companies…

  • Subsidised public loans to companies (senior and subordinated debt)...

  • Safeguards for banks that channel State aid to the real economy…

  • Public short-term export credit insurance…

  • Support for coronavirus related research and development (R&D)...

  • Support for the construction and upscaling of testing facilities…

  • Support for the production of products relevant to tackle the coronavirus outbreak…

  • Targeted support in the form of deferral of tax payments and/or suspensions of social security contributions…

  • Targeted support in the form of wage subsidies for employees…

  • Targeted recapitalisation aid to non-financial companies, if no other appropriate solution is available.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_1275

5 July

Coronavirus response: Team Europe supports Somalia with three EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flights | European Commission

 

Today, an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flight arrived in Mogadishu from Brindisi, Italy, carrying humanitarian and medical supplies provided by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Italian civil society organisations and international NGOs. Two other flights to Somalia will take off from Brindisi in the coming days, with additional material on board, bringing the total of cargo to 42 tonnes.


Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, said: “This EU Humanitarian Air Bridge operation will support the coronavirus response in Somalia with personal protective equipment and medical material. In addition, the flights are helping humanitarian organisations transport supplies needed to reinforce their projects in the recently flood-hit areas in Somalia. Given the urgency of the needs, the EU accorded utmost importance that these flights are operated at the earliest possibility.”


https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_1273

1 July

Spain: COVID-19 - EIB Group and BBVA provide €1.423 billion for SMEs and mid-caps affected by the crisis | European Investment Bank

 

The European Investment Bank (EIB) Group and BBVA are set to join forces to support Spanish small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-caps affected by the COVID-19 crisis, signing two agreements to provide total financing of €1.423 billion.


The EIB will grant €450 million to BBVA, which will in turn add a further €450 million, bringing the financing made available to the SMEs and mid-caps in question to €900 million.


The COVID-19 economic shock has affected 96% of Spanish SMEs, and over 85% believe it will be difficult for them to survive, according to a report from the Spanish Confederation of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (CEPYME). The two agreements signed by the EIB Group and BBVA will make it possible to provide financing to SMEs and mid-caps across all sectors of the Spanish economy, with a view to offering liquidity and also helping to finance their operating costs.

 

https://www.eib.org/en/press/all/2020-174-covid-19-eib-group-and-bbva-provide-eur1423-billion-for-smes-and-mid-caps-affected-by-the-crisis

1 July

EIB and ESM lead discussion on how to connect capital markets with a post-coronavirus sustainable recovery | European Investment Bank

 

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) are hosting today and tomorrow a joint online seminar on capital markets in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Aimed at their investor bases, the first day of the program will cover experts’ views on the macroeconomic and structural impact of the current crisis, as well as the role of sustainable finance in the economic recovery and the role of public and private investment in continuing to sustain the transition to a greener and low-carbon economy. The second day will be focused on Europe’s financial resilience highlighting its journey from banking union to capital markets union.


Both institutions are playing a key role in Europe’s response to COVID-19 crisis. Within the EUR 540bn rescue package approved by the European Council in April 2020, the EIB is establishing a European Guarantee Fund that will mobilise up to EUR 200bn, mainly to support SMEs. The ESM has made available a EUR 240bn credit line, Pandemic Crisis Support, for euro area Member States to cover their direct and indirect healthcare costs related to COVID-19.


Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the EIB has issued EUR 2.4 bn equivalent in SABs, contributing to environmental- and social sustainability objectives in line with evolving EU sustainable finance legislation and contributing to the United Nations’ sustainability  development goals, including Universal Access to Affordable Health Services (SDG 3). SAB-eligibilities are being extended to other financing areas directly related to fight against COVID-19 pandemic.


https://www.eib.org/en/press/all/2020-172-eib-and-esm-lead-discussion-on-how-to-connect-capital-markets-with-a-post-coronavirus-sustainable-recovery

30 June

Respect older people’s rights when exiting the COVID-19 pandemic | European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights

 

Many older people in care homes fell victim to COVID-19. Many also faced months of isolation and restrictions often harsher than those enforced for other parts of the population. The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) looks at how the pandemic affected the rights of older people. It highlights the need for a rights-based approach as governments shape their exit strategies.


“Everyone has the same rights, no matter how old they are,” stressed FRA director, Michael O’Flaherty. “As we transition to the ‘new normal’, governments must pay special attention to the needs of older people and ensure they are treated equally. Only then, will older people be able to regain their lives in dignity and respect.”


While governments aim to protect the most vulnerable in our societies, some COVID-19 measures raise concerns about the rights of older people:

  • Right to life – the death rate among older people was much higher than among other age groups – particularly in institutional settings, which serves to underline the vulnerability and need for close monitoring of older people in such settings.

  • Access to healthcare – as national healthcare systems came under pressure, doctors were forced to decide who to treat. In some EU countries, authorities or healthcare bodies issued guidance suggesting a patient’s age as a criterion for prioritising treatment.

  • Lack of testing – testing of care home residents and staff was lacking. By the end of May, testing was planned or underway only in a third of EU countries.

  • Stricter restrictions – many EU countries had stricter rules for older people than for the general population. At the same time, all countries introduced specific measures to help older people access services or use public transport.

  • Isolation – lack of social contacts took a toll on the physical and mental well-being of older people. Many local initiatives supported people in care homes.

  • Healthcare delays – many countries suspended non-urgent treatments, which affected many older people who have existing health conditions requiring treatment. 

 

https://fra.europa.eu/en/news/2020/respect-older-peoples-rights-when-exiting-covid-19-pandemic

26 June

EMCDDA and Europol join EU institutions in dialogue on the impact of COVID-19 on the world drug situation | European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

 

On the occasion of International day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking, the EMCDDA and Europol are joining representatives of the EU institutions today in providing the European perspective on the impact of COVID-19 on the world drug situation. The panel discussion will conclude a special event of the United Nations’ Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) and is co-sponsored by the European Union and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).


̦The EMCDDA and Europol have been ‘taking the pulse’ of the impact of COVID-19 on drug use, drug services and drug markets. In a report published last month (3), they explored drug market developments under the pandemic and their impact on public health and security in the EU. The analysis reported higher prices, local shortages and reduced purity for some drugs, while noting continued violence among suppliers and distributors. It also described how organised crime groups have remained active and resilient, by adapting transportation models, trafficking routes and concealment methods during the pandemic.


Speaking today, Catherine De Bolle said: ‘While our legal economy is weakening, criminal markets have continued their business and have become even stronger, generating huge profits. The movement of bulk quantities of drugs to the European Union and between EU Member States has continued and seizures of illegal drugs in some EU countries during the first half of 2020 have been higher than in the same months of previous years’.


Alexis Goosdeel concluded: ‘The way in which the different services and authorities have been working together in the European Union in the times of this pandemic has shown that the “balanced approach” of the EU drugs policy has contributed to care and to protect, rather than to punish’.


https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/news/2020/5/emcdda-and-europol-join-eu-institutions-in-dialogue-on-the-impact-of-covid-19-on-the-world-drug-situation_en

26 June

Covid-19: digital surveillance, borders and human rights | European Parliament

 

The Covid-19 crisis has put some of the fundamental principles of the EU to the test. During a Facebook Live, Maria Arena, chair of Parliament's human rights subcommittee, talked about the human rights aspects of the EU response to the pandemic.


The EU has played an important role in enabling the free movement of goods and services, including medicines and equipment, to countries that needed them the most, Arena said, but it is "very important to come back to freedom of movement for citizens". Europe is not Europe without that, she said.


The EU is coordinating with member states to relax Covid-induced border controls to enable people to travel again, but measures to prevent the virus spreading remain and some of them raise privacy concerns. They include Covid-19 tracing apps that the EU has recognised as a way to help opening the borders. "It is important to work with technology, including tracing people to prevent contamination, but we have to respect principles," Arena said.


Asked about balancing privacy with practices such as thermoscanning travellers and requesting them to present a medical certificate when travelling certain countries, she said: "I agree that in a normal situation it would not be normal to have this kind of monitoring. But it is not the case now. If we want to reopen the borders, if we want to monitor the pandemic situation, we need to have more information."


https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/society/20200618STO81514/covid-19-digital-surveillance-borders-and-human-rights

25 June

Response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the EU energy sector: Council adopts conclusions | European Council

 

The Council today adopted conclusions on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the EU energy sector. Above all, the Council expresses its appreciation for staff in the energy sector for their dedicated and effective efforts to ensure the continuous operation of the European energy system during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Council highlights the crucial role of the energy sector in the EU's economic recovery and notes that the European economy needs to become greener, more circular and more digital while remaining competitive globally. The necessary economic transformation towards sustainable growth and climate neutrality, building on the European Green Deal, is a major opportunity to stimulate the member states' economies. It will also gradually reduce the use of fossil fuels and further promote European leadership in developing and deploying safe and sustainable low-carbon technologies in a cost-efficient manner while respecting the member state’s right to choose their energy mix and appropriate technologies.

 

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2020/06/25/response-to-the-covid-19-pandemic-in-the-eu-energy-sector-council-adopts-conclusions/

24 June

Foreign takeovers in Covid-19 crisis: MEPs push for level-playing field | European Parliament

 

In a plenary debate on 17 June, MEPs expressed concerns that foreign companies receiving subsidies from their governments may try to gain a competitive edge on European companies or even buy them out taking advantage of their financial difficulties in the Covid-19 pandemic.


The European Commission announced earlier that day the launch of a public consultation on how to deal with the distortive effects in the Ssngle market caused by foreign subsidies. Most MEPs speaking in plenary supported the initiative and emphasised the need for fair competition.


Christophe Hansen (EPP, Luxembourg) said “China is not the only state on a shopping spree for companies weakened by the impact of the pandemic”, but it is “the elephant in the room in this debate”. “If we are to keep up public support for our trade policy, we must equip it with the tools to enforce fair competition,” he added.


In a report on EU competition policy drafted by Yon-Courtin and adopted in plenary on 18 June, MEPs underlined the need to safeguard critical EU companies and assets from hostile takeovers.


Some MEPs called for strengthening the rules on screening foreign direct investment in the EU. The EU adopted  a legal framework on this in 2019. The aim is to make sure that investment does not pose a threat to critical infrastructure or allow access to sensitive information or key technologies. The rules will come into force in October 2020.

 

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/economy/20200618STO81512/foreign-takeovers-meps-push-for-level-playing-field

24 June

Coronavirus response: Team Europe support to Sudan through EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flight | european Commission

 

Today, the second of two EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flights arrived in Sudan, helping humanitarian workers and essential supplies reach people in need and supporting the coronavirus response in the country. This fully EU-funded Humanitarian Air Bridge flight to Sudan was made possible through a coordinated Team Europe approach, bringing together the European Union, Sweden, France and the Humanitarian Logistics Network.


The EU's Humanitarian Air Bridge to Sudan is part of the EU's Global Response to the coronavirus pandemic. Through the Global Response, €6 billion is supporting countries in Africa, of which more than €120 million was mobilised in Sudan.


https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_1180

23 June

COVID-19: New EMCDDA study highlights decline in stimulant drug use but some rises in the use of cannabis, alcohol and prescription medicines to combat anxiety and depression | The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)

A decline in stimulant drug use but some rises in the consumption of cannabis and licit substances are among the findings presented today in a new EMCDDA report The impact of COVID-19 on patterns of drug use and drug-related harms in Europe. The report describes how national confinement measures and disrupted street drug markets have reduced both the opportunities to use drugs within social environments as well as the availability of some substances. But it also suggests a rise in the use of alcohol and prescription medicines, in some groups, as a means of conquering anxiety and depression during lockdown.


The report is the second in a series of briefings resulting from an EMCDDA ‘trendspotter’ study, launched in April to explore the impact of COVID-19 on the drug situation and responses to it. (...) The analysis draws on a range of sources, including: expert surveys, virtual consultations with professionals and NGOs and a recent ‘European Web Survey on Drugs: COVID-19’ (EWSD-COVID), which received over 10 000 responses.


For cannabis, the picture is mixed, with data suggesting that occasional users may have stopped or decreased their use during lockdown, while frequent users may have stocked up and consumed more. Shortages of heroin in some localities may have contributed to a decline in use of this drug and potentially resulted in an increase in demand for opioid substitution treatment as well as in the use of replacement substances. While the majority of respondents in the EWSD-COVID reported stable or reduced drug use, a quarter reported increased use, often due to boredom and anxiety.


https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/news/2020/covid-19-new-emcdda-study-highlights-decline-stimulant-drug-use_en

22 June

EU Strategy on COVID-19 vaccines must guarantee safety and accessibility for all

To facilitate the development, authorisation and consequently availability of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, the Commission proposal from 17 June proposes to establish a temporary derogation from certain rules for clinical trials of drugs involving GMOs.


The EU and member states are closely cooperating in the race to find safe and effective vaccines to counter the spread of COVID-19. In the world, there are over 50 different vaccines under development.


https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20200619IPR81614/eu-strategy-on-covid-19-vaccines-must-guarantee-safety-and-accessibility-for-all

21 June

The Commission and a number of Member States have been in discussions with vaccine producers

Building on this work, the Commission has put forward a proposal for joint action at the EU level. The Commission plans a centralised EU approach to securing supplies and providing support for the development of a vaccine.


The Commission enters into Advanced Purchase Agreements with individual vaccine producers on behalf of Member States. In return for the right to buy a specified number of vaccine doses in a given timeframe and at a given price, the Commission will finance a part of the upfront costs faced by vaccines producers from the Emergency Support Instrument.


This funding will be considered as a down-payment on the vaccines that will actually be purchased by Member States. Additional support is possible through loans from the European Investment Bank. This approach will decrease risks for companies while speeding up and increasing manufacturing.


https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/health/coronavirus-response/public-health/coronavirus-vaccines-strategy_en

19 June

COVID-19: Easing rules to encourage banks to lend to companies and households | European Parliament

On Thursday evening, Plenary approved the “quick fix” to the capital requirement regulation (CRR) to temporarily ensure favourable conditions for banks. This will support credit flows to companies and households and absorb losses, mitigating the economic consequences of the COVID-19 lock-down.


With a view to striking a balance between a robust and stable banking system and securing much-needed credit for the EU economy, MEPs agreed on specific temporary changes to the CRR, which will have to be coherently applied in the EU.

 

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20200615IPR81234/covid-19-easing-rules-to-encourage-banks-to-lend-to-companies-and-households

18 June

COVID-19 crisis is a potential geopolitical game-changer, warn MEPs

A global pandemic needs global solutions, and the EU has to be at the centre of this response, said High Representative and Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell in a plenary debate on the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis on EU foreign policy, on Thursday.


To this end, the EU has launched a Team Europe response to support its partner countries in facing the pandemic, said Mr Borrell in his introductory speech. It is vital to boost sustainable and green investment in the EU’s partner countries worldwide, he added. “This crisis will be a crisis of biblical consequences”, warned the EU foreign affairs chief, stressing also the importance of extending the European Union’s programmes for refugees.


The pandemic has brought about changes of tremendous dimensions and will be a potential “geopolitical game-changer”, MEPs pointed out, be it due to the deterioration of democracy and fundamental freedoms in many parts of the world, increasing disinformation campaigns, cyber-attacks, or isolationism instead of multilateral cooperation.

 

MEPs called for unity in facing the crisis. They pointed out that in the absence of the US as a global leader, Europe should step in and take on this role.


https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20200615IPR81230/covid-19-crisis-is-a-potential-geopolitical-game-changer-warn-meps

15 June

Re-opening the EU

The European Commission launches 'Re-open EU', a web platform containing essential information for a safe relaunch of tourism in Europe in the post-Covid period. Europeans will now be able to plan their holidays confidently as the platform provides real-time information on borders, means of transport, travel restrictions, public health and safety measures such as physical distancing or the wearing of facemasks.


https://cor.europa.eu/en/news/Pages/reopening-the-EU.aspx

12 June

EU Natural Resources (NAT) Commission | CoR NAT Commission Bulletin No. 7

 

In line with the announced Pharmaceutical strategy for Europe, the European Commission launched a roadmap and announced a public consultation that would lead to the adoption of the Strategy towards the end of 2020. Please find more information and participation links below.

 


The Commission adopted an update of the Biological Agents Directive to include SARS-CoV-2 among the list of biological agents it covers. This update takes into account new risks in the workplace and offers additional protection to all workers, particularly those working in direct contact with the virus in hospitals, industrial processes and laboratories.
Links:

On 20 May, European Commission issued the Farm to Fork Strategy. The Strategy is aiming at enabling the transition to a more sustainable food system while safeguarding food security, ensuring access to healthy diets and reducing the environmental and climate footprint of the EU food system while strengthening its resilience.

 

At this end, the Strategy sets ambitious targets for a reduction by 50% of the use and risk of pesticides, a reduction by at least 20% of the use of fertilizers, a reduction by 50% in sales of antimicrobials used for farmed animals and aquaculture, reaching 25% of agricultural land under organic farming. It also proposes measures to ensure that the healthy option is the easiest for EU citizens, including improved labelling to better meet consumers' expectations.

 

 

https://cor.europa.eu/en/news/Pages/NAT-covid-19-crisis-bulletin-07.aspx

3 June

Yemen: EU allocates over €70 million to help most vulnerable population
 

The Commission will provide new funding of €70 million in Yemen, as the coronavirus threatens to worsen one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, where famine already looms. More than €40 million of this package will help prevent and respond to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.


To protect against the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, EU partner organisations are implementing emergency plans and control measures, to reduce the expansion of the virus. EU assistance also supports the treatment of severely malnourished children.


The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is caused by the ongoing conflict. It is urgent to find a political solution to end it. In this regard, the EU will continue supporting the UN-led efforts to resume peace talks and achieve sustainable peace in the country. It is fundamental that all parties to the conflict answer the UN Secretary-General's call on those fighting to end hostilities.


https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_993

21 may

State aid: Commission approves €9 billion Italian “umbrella” scheme to support economy in coronavirus outbreak
 

The European Commission has approved a €9 billion Italian “umbrella” scheme to support the Italian economy in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020, as amended on 3 April and 8 May 2020.


Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “The €9 billion Italian “umbrella” scheme will enable support to companies of all sizes by Italy's regions, the autonomous provinces, other territorial bodies and Chambers of commerce.”


Under the scheme, public support can be granted through:

 

  • Direct grants, guarantees on loans and subsidised interest rates for loans.

  • Aid for coronavirus-related research and development (R&D), for the construction and upscaling of facilities to develop and test coronavirus-relevant products, and for the production of coronavirus-related products, such as vaccines, medical products, treatments and devices, disinfectants and protective clothing, active pharmaceutical ingredients and active substances used for disinfectants.

  • Wage subsidies for employees to avoid lay-offs during the coronavirus outbreak.    

 

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_925

20 may

Reinforcing Europe's resilience: halting biodiversity loss and building a healthy and sustainable food system | 20
 

In line with the European Green Deal, they propose ambitious EU actions and commitments to halt biodiversity loss in Europe and worldwide and transform our food systems into global standards for competitive sustainability, the protection of human and planetary health, as well as the livelihoods of all actors in the food value chain. The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated how vulnerable the increasing biodiversity loss makes us and how crucial a well-functioning food system is for our society. The two strategies put the citizen at the centre, by committing to increase the protection of land and sea, restoring degraded ecosystems and establishing the EU as a leader on the international stage both on the protection of biodiversity and on building a sustainable food chain.


The new Biodiversity Strategy tackles the key drivers of biodiversity loss, such as unsustainable use of land and sea, overexploitation of natural resources, pollution, and invasive alien species. Adopted in the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, the strategy is a central element of the EU's recovery plan, crucial to preventing and building resilience to future outbreaks and providing immediate business and investment opportunities for restoring the EU's economy. It also aims to make biodiversity considerations an integral part of EU's overall economic growth strategy. The strategy proposes to, among others, establish binding targets to restore damaged ecosystems and rivers, improve the health of EU protected habitats and species, bring back pollinators to agricultural land, reduce pollution, green our cities, enhance organic farming and other biodiversity-friendly farming practices, and improve the health of European forests. The strategy brings forward concrete steps to put Europe's biodiversity on the path to recovery by 2030, including transforming at least 30% of Europe's lands and seas into effectively managed protected areas and bringing back at least 10% of agricultural area under high-diversity landscape features.


Next steps

  • The Commission invites the European Parliament and the Council to endorse these two strategies and its commitments.All citizens and stakeholders are invited to engage in a broad public debate.

 

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_884

20 may

European Semester Spring Package: Recommendations for a coordinated response to the coronavirus pandemic
 

The Commission has proposed today country-specific recommendations (CSRs) providing economic policy guidance to all EU Member States in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, focused on the most urgent challenges brought about by the pandemic and on relaunching sustainable growth.


The recommendations are structured around two objectives: 

 

  1. in the short-term, mitigating the coronavirus pandemic's severe negative socio-economic consequences; 

  2. and in the short to medium-term, achieving sustainable and inclusive growth which facilitates the green transition and the digital transformation.

 

Next steps

  • A coordinated European economic response is crucial to relaunch economic activity, mitigate damage to the economic and social fabric, and to reduce divergences and imbalances. The European Semester of economic and employment policy coordination therefore constitutes a crucial element of the recovery strategy.

  • Against this background, the Commission calls on the Council to adopt these country-specific recommendations and on Member States to implement them fully and in a timely manner.

 

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_901

20 may

Coronavirus global response: EU allocates additional €50 million in humanitarian aid
 

Today the European Commission announced an additional €50 million in humanitarian aid to help respond to the dramatic increase in humanitarian needs caused by the Coronavirus pandemic globally. The new funding follows increased appeals by humanitarian organisations, including the UN Global Appeal.

 

  • In February 2020, €30 million was allocated to the World Health Organization. Since then, the Commission has, subject to the agreement of the EU budgetary authorities, planned around €76 million to programmes included in the United Nations Global Humanitarian Response Plan. In addition, the Commission is providing direct funding for the work of humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement, which are in the frontline of the humanitarian response to Coronavirus.

  • EU Humanitarian Air Bridge: On 8 May, the Commission also announced the establishment of an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge to transport humanitarian workers and emergency supplies for the Coronavirus response to some of the most critically affected areas around the world. The first flight on 8 May, operated in cooperation with France, transported around 60 humanitarian workers from various NGOs and UN agencies and 13 tonnes of humanitarian cargo to Bangui in the Central African Republic. Two subsequent humanitarian cargo flights to Central African Republic will transport a further 27 tonnes of humanitarian supplies in total. On 15 May, on the second destination of the EU humanitarian air bridge, 20 tons of supplies and humanitarian and health workers were flown to the West-African country of São Tomé and Principe. The flight was set-up in cooperation with the Portuguese government and several humanitarian partner organisations. On their return leg, the flight also brought back over 200 EU citizens and other passengers to Lisbon in a repatriation effort.


https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_905

19 may

Coronavirus: Commission boosts urgently needed research and innovation with additional €122 million
 

The Commission has mobilised another €122 million from its research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, for urgently needed research into the coronavirus. The new call for expressions of interest contributes to the Commission's €1.4 billion pledge to the Coronavirus Global Response initiative, launched by President Ursula von der Leyen on 4 May 2020.


The projects funded under this call should repurpose manufacturing for rapid production of vital medical supplies and equipment needed for testing, treatment and prevention, as well as develop medical technologies and digital tools to improve detection, surveillance and patients care. New research will learn from large groups of patients (cohorts) across Europe and better understanding of the behavioural and socio-economic impacts of the coronavirus epidemic could help improve treatment and prevention strategies.


The deadline for submission is 11 June 2020, while the call will focus on delivering results quickly. Europe, and the world at large, urgently need innovative solutions to contain and mitigate the outbreak, and to better care for patients, survivors, vulnerable groups, frontline health care staff and their communities. This is why the Commission aims to enable research work to start as quickly as possible through shorter timelines for the preparation of expressions of interest and for their evaluation.


The new solutions need to be available and affordable for all, in line with the principles of the Coronavirus Global Response. For this purpose, the Commission will include rapid data-sharing clauses in grant agreements, resulting from this new call, to ensure that findings and outcomes can be put to use immediately.


The new call will cover five areas with the following indicative budgets:

 

  • Repurposing of manufacturing for vital medical supplies and equipment (€23 million)

  • Medical technologies, Digital tools and Artificial Intelligence analytics to improve surveillance and care at high Technology Readiness Levels (€56 million)

  • Behavioural, social and economic impacts of the outbreak responses (€20 million)

  • Pan-European COVID-19 cohorts (€20 million)

  • Collaboration of existing EU and international cohorts of relevance to COVID-19 (€3 million)

 

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_887

19 may

Coronavirus: Commission welcomes Council adoption of €100 billion SURE instrument
 

The European Commission warmly welcomes the agreement between Member States in the Council on the regulation establishing the European instrument for temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE).


Today's decision is an important step in the EU's joint fight against the socio-economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. Financial support to Member States under SURE will become available once all Member States have voluntarily committed and signed their guarantee agreements with the Commission. Once this has happened, SURE will become operational and the EU will be able to support Member States in protecting the jobs and workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic by providing up to €100 billion in loans on favourable terms.


https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/mex_20_904#2

13 may

Tourism and transport: Commission's guidance on how to safely resume travel and reboot Europe's tourism in 2020 and beyond*
 

The Commission's Tourism and Transport package includes:

  • An overall strategy towards recovery in 2020 and beyond;

  • A common approach to restoring free movement and lifting restrictions at EU internal borders in a gradual and coordinated way;

  • A framework to support the gradual re-establishment of transport whilst ensuring the safety of passengers and personnel;

  • A recommendation which aims to make travel vouchers an attractive alternative to cash reimbursement for consumers;

  • Criteria for restoring tourism activities safely and gradually and for developing health protocols for hospitality establishments such as hotels.

 

For tourists and travellers

  • Safely restoring freedom of movement and lifting internal border controls:

  • epidemiological, notably focusing on areas where situation is improving, based on guidance by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and using the regional map developed by the ECDC;

  • the ability to apply containment measures throughout the whole journey including at border crossings, including additional safeguards and measures where physical distancing may be difficult to ensure and

  • economic and social considerations, initially prioritising cross-border movement in key areas of activity and including personal reasons.

  • principle of non-discrimination

  • Restoring transport services across the EU while protecting the health of transport workers and passengers:

  • Safely resuming tourism services:

  • Ensuring cross-border interoperability of tracing apps:

  • Making vouchers a more attractive option for consumers:

 

For tourism businesses

  • Ensuring liquidity for tourism businesses, in particular SMEs, through:

  • Saving jobs with up to €100 billion in financial relief from the SURE programme:

  • Connecting citizens to local tourism offer, promoting local attractions and tourism and Europe as a safe tourist destination:

 

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_854

12 may

​Coronavirus: €117 million granted for treatments and diagnostics through the Innovative Medicines Initiative
 

The Commission announced today that 8 large-scale research projects, aimed at developing treatments and diagnostics for the coronavirus,were selected in a fast-track call for proposals, launched in March by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a public-private partnership.


In order to fund a larger number of high-quality proposals, the Commission increased its commitment to €72 million (up from the originally planned €45 million) from Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme. €45 million will be provided by the pharmaceutical industry, IMI associated partners and other organisations involved with the projects, bringing the total investment to €117 million.


https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_837
 

12 may

State aid: Commission approves:
 

  • €25 million Belgian aid scheme to support coronavirus related research and development activities in Wallonia

  • €322 million Croatian loan guarantees and subsidised loans scheme for micro, small and medium-sized companies affected by coronavirus outbreak

  • €1.5 million Latvian scheme to support companies active in the agricultural sector affected by coronavirus outbreak

  • €11.5 million Maltese scheme to support investments in the production of coronavirus-relevant products

  • compensation for early closure of coal fired power plant in the Netherlands

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/home/en

Commission publishes guidance on coronavirus-related humanitarian aid to Syria despite sanctions

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_831

12 may

12 may

Coronavirus: €117 million granted for treatments and diagnostics through the Innovative Medicines Initiative
 

The Commission announced today that 8 large-scale research projects, aimed at developing treatments and diagnostics for the coronavirus,were selected in a fast-track call for proposals, launched in March by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a public-private partnership.


In order to fund a larger number of high-quality proposals, the Commission increased its commitment to €72 million (up from the originally planned €45 million) from Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme. €45 million will be provided by the pharmaceutical industry, IMI associated partners and other organisations involved with the projects, bringing the total investment to €117 million.


https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_837

11 may

Commission launches the Fit for Future Platform and invites experts to join
 

The European Commission has today launched the Fit for Future Platform – a high-level expert group, which will help the Commission simplify existing EU laws and reduce administrative burden for citizens and businesses. It will also help ensure that EU legislation remains future-proof, given the need to tackle new challenges, such as digitalisation.


https://europeansting.com/2020/05/11/commission-launches-the-fit-for-future-platform-and-invites-experts-to-join/

11 may

State aid: Commission approves

 

  • French guarantee scheme for exporting small and midsize companies affected by coronavirus outbreak

  • €450 million Polish scheme to support companies affected by coronavirus outbreak

  • €500 million Greek scheme to support the self-employed affected by coronavirus outbreak

  • €10.3 billion UK scheme to support self-employed individuals and members of partnerships during the coronavirus outbreak


https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/home/en

8 may

Coronavirus Global Response: EU sets up a Humanitarian Air Bridge

 

The European Commission has set up an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge to transport humanitarian workers and emergency supplies for the coronavirus response to some of most critical areas around the world.


Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, is travelling today to Bangui on the first flight and will meet H.E. Faustin-Archange Touadéra, President of the Central African Republic, as well as humanitarian organisations.

 

How the Humanitarian Air Bridge works

  • In a joint effort between the Commission and Member States, the Commission funds air transport of Member States' flights to and from the proposed destinations, where possible combined with ongoing repatriation flights, also including humanitarian workers on rotation.

  • Humanitarian staff from national administrations, NGOs or UN Agencies can benefit from the facility.

  • The Commission finances 100% of the transport costs, whereas the EU partners remain responsible for the procurement of the humanitarian material.


https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_813

Coronavirus: Commission delivers first batch of 1.5 million masks from 10 million purchased to support EU healthcare workers

Over the coming days, 1.5 million medical masks will be delivered to 17 Member States and the UK to protect healthcare workers against coronavirus. This latest EU mask delivery is part of a new Commission funded purchase of 10 million masks via the Emergency Support Instrument to provide direct support to Member States to mitigate the immediate consequences of the pandemic and anticipate the needs related to the exit and recovery.


The Emergency Support Instrument allows direct support to EU Member States in their efforts to address the pandemic through measures that can deliver greater impact if taken at EU level. It does not replace existing instruments (joint procurement, rescEU, etc.) but complements them.


This will allow the Commission to support a wide range of initiatives, including:

 

  • purchasing medical equipment such as ventilators and masks;

  • coordinating and financially supporting the transport of patients to EU Member States with spare hospital capacity;

  • contributing to increase the rollout and testing across the EU;

  • supporting the deployment of vaccines, some of which might be the result of significant support under other EU initiatives.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_819

8 may

6 may

Spring 2020 Economic Forecast: A deep and uneven recession, an uncertain recovery
 

The coronavirus pandemic represents a major shock for the global and EU economies, with very severe socio-economic consequences. Despite the swift and comprehensive policy response at both EU and national level, the EU economy will experience a recession of historic proportions this year.


The Spring 2020 Economic Forecast projects that the euro area economy will contract by a record 7¾% in 2020 and grow by 6¼% in 2021. The EU economy is forecast to contract by 7½% in 2020 and grow by around 6% in 2021. Growth projections for the EU and euro area have been revised down by around nine percentage points compared to the Autumn 2019 Economic Forecast.


https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/economic-performance-and-forecasts/economic-forecasts/autumn-2019-economic-forecast-challenging-road-ahead_en


https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_799

6 may

Covid-19: emergency measures to help EU farmers and fishermen
 

EU countries will be able to provide support to:

  • Fishermen for the temporary cessation of fishing activities

  • Aquaculture farmers for the temporary suspension or reduction of production

  • Producer organisations for the temporary storage of fishery and aquaculture products

 

How is the EU helping farmers?


On 15 April Parliament’s agriculture committee welcomed the Commission's plans to help the agri-food sector, but called for more targeted action, including market measures such as private storage. MEPs also called for the activation of the crisis reserve to help struggling agricultural sectors and said EU farm policy will need adequate long-term budget support in the post-Covid period.


Among the measures are the reallocation of unused agriculture funds to fight the effects of the crisis in rural areas. A more flexible and simplified European agriculture fund for rural development will allow for loans or guarantees at favourable conditions such as very low interest rates or favourable payment schedules to cover operational costs of up to €200,000.

 

The Commission has also proposed to cut the number of physical on-farm checks, to extend the deadline for farmers to apply for direct payments and rural development payments by one month to 15 June 2020 and to increase the advances of these payments from mid-October.


https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/priorities/eu-response-to-coronavirus/20200416STO77203/covid-19-emergency-measures-to-help-eu-farmers-and-fishermen

6 may

European Parliament | Supporting the EU’s cultural sector through Covid-19

MEPs underlined the special nature of the creative sector and the difficulties faced by artists and called on the EU to provide support in a resolution adopted on 17 April.


MEPs have written a letter to Thierry Breton, Internal Market Commissioner; and Mariya Gabriel, Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner, in which they call for:

 

  • Protecting artists who may not qualify for national support schemes through the Creative Europe programme

  • Making sure EU funds reach the sector by increasing funding for Creative Europe

  • Creating an ad hoc financial instrument under the European Investment Fund to channel funds to the sector

 

During a discussion with the culture Committee on 4 May, Commissioners Gabriel and Breton told MEPs that an EU support plan for the cultural and creative sectors was being prepared, within the scope of the larger EU recovery plan. In addition to the EU increasing the flexibility of current programmes and structural funds, direct support measures are also under consideration.


The Commission also supported the launch of a new platform - Creatives Unite - a space for the cultural and creative sector to share information about initiatives responding to the coronavirus crisis.


https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/priorities/eu-response-to-coronavirus/20200423STO77704/supporting-the-eu-s-cultural-sector-through-covid-19


https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2020-0054_EN.html

4 may

Coronavirus Global Response: €7.4 billion raised for universal access to vaccines

 

The Commission registered €7.4 billion, equivalent to $8 billion, in pledges from donors worldwide during the Coronavirus Global Response pledging event. This includes a pledge of €1.4 billion by the Commission. This almost reaches the initial target of €7.5 billion and is a solid starting point for the worldwide pledging marathon, which begins today. The aim is to gather significant funding to ensure the collaborative development and universal deployment of diagnostics, treatments and vaccines against coronavirus.


The pledging event was co-convened by the European Union, Canada, France, Germany, Italy (also incoming G20 presidency), Japan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (also holding the G20 presidency), Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom. The initiative is a response to the call from the World Health Organization (WHO) and a group of health actors for a global collaboration for the accelerated development, production and equitable global access to new coronavirus essential health technologies. The Coronavirus Global Response Initiative is comprised of three partnerships for testing, treating and preventing underpinned by health systems strengthening.


https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_797?utm_campaign=59b7d20894a326107700117f&utm_content=5eb048e6eea8090001ead2fd&utm_medium=smarpshare&utm_source=generic

24 april

Von der Leyen announces Global Response and calls for united world front against coronavirus

 

European Commission: The only way to defeat the coronavirus is by working together around the world.
She announced the EU was joining forces with global partners to kick-start a pledging effort – the Coronavirus Global Response – on 4 May 2020. “The aim is to raise EUR 7.5 billion to ramp up work on prevention, diagnostics and treatment. This is a first step only, but more will be needed in the future. Because beating coronavirus will require sustained actions on many fronts,” she said.


The Coronavirus Global Response has two main aims. Firstly, to rally global support and attract financial contributions to bridge the funding gap, and secondly, to secure a high-level political commitment to ensuring equitable access to therapeutics and vaccines, leaving no-one behind.

 

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/AC_20_749
https://www.facebook.com/events/1106094103100319/

22 april

Coronavirus: European Commission proposes €3 billion macro-financial assistance package to support ten neighbouring countries

 

The Commission has adopted a proposal for a €3 billion macro-financial assistance (MFA) package to ten enlargement and neighbourhood partners to help them to limit the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. The proposal comes on top of the ‘Team Europe' strategy, the EU's robust and targeted response to support partner countries' efforts in tackling the coronavirus pandemic. It represents an important demonstration of the EU's solidarity with these countries at a time of unprecedented crisis.


The proposal, following a preliminary assessment of financing needs, provides for the MFA funds to be distributed as follows: the Republic of Albania (€180 million), Bosnia and Herzegovina (€250 million), Georgia (€150 million), the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (€200 million), Kosovo (€100 million), the Republic of Moldova (€100 million), Montenegro (€60 million), the Republic of North Macedonia (€160 million), the Republic of Tunisia (€600 million) and Ukraine (€1.2 billion).


https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_716

14 april

€37 billion from EU budget made available to EU countries
The EU took swift action and fast-tracked the allocation of available funds from the EU budget in 2020 to the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative.

The funds are immediately available for member states and can be used to support healthcare systems and citizens in their fight against the COVID-19 outbreak and its consequences.

The Council adopted by written procedure two amendments to the EU 2020 budget, to make available an additional €3.1 billion in funds to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

This additional budget will be used to:

  • purchase and distribute medical supplies, including protective gear and ventilators

  • boost the production of testing kits

  • build field hospitals

  • transfer patients for treatment in other member states

  • repatriate EU citizens stranded abroad

NEXT STEPS:

During its plenary on 16-17 April 2020, the European Parliament is expected to agree its position on the two draft amending budget proposals. Once there is an agreement, the budget will be adopted. The European Parliament will also agree its position on the three proposals on the special financial instruments.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2020/04/14/tackling-covid-19-council-adopts-amended-eu-budget-for-2020/

EEAS

“Team Europe” - Global EU Response to Covid-19 supporting partner countries and fragile populations

 

The coronavirus has not only Europe but the entire global community in its grip and is the world’s common enemy. An enemy we can only defeat with a global approach and cross-border coordination. And while we have to mobilise all our resources to fight the virus at home, now is also the time to look beyond our borders, most specifically at our sister continent Africa and the Southern Neighbourhood, as well as at the Western Balkans, the Middle East, and parts of Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Because solidarity cannot be an empty word and also because for as long as the virus will not be eradicated everywhere, it will remain a threat to all of us.


https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/77470/%E2%80%9Cteam-europe%E2%80%9D-global-eu-response-covid-19-supporting-partner-countries-and-fragile-populations_en

11 april

9 April

Eurogroup puts forward €500 billion support package
 

The Eurogroup met via video conference to draw up a package of response measures to present to EU leaders.

The report proposes three immediate safety nets for workers, businesses and member states. It also prepares the ground for a recovery fund to relaunch the economy and ensure EU solidarity with the member states most affected by COVID-19. 

 

"Today, we agreed upon three safety nets and a plan for the recovery, to ensure we grow together, not apart, once the virus is behind us. These proposals build on our collective financial strength and European solidarity."

Mário Centeno, President of the Eurogroup

Coordinated actions taken so far at the level of the Member States, the EU and the euro area (EXTRACTS)

  1. To date, the aggregate amount of Member States’ discretionary fiscal measures amounts to 3% of EU GDP, a threefold increase since 16 March, on top of the significant impact of automatic stabilisers.

  2. Member States have so far committed to provide liquidity support for sectors facing disruptions and companies facing liquidity shortages, consisting of public guarantee schemes and deferred tax payments, which are now estimated at 16% of EU GDP, up from 10% on 16 March.  

  3. Flexibility in EU rules. On 23 March, Ministers of Finance agreed with the assessment of the Commission that the conditions for the use of the general escape clause of the EU fiscal framework, a severe economic downturn in the euro area or the Union as a whole, are fulfilled. This offers the flexibility necessary to the national budgets to support the economy and to respond in a coordinated manner to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We welcomed the Commission’s decision to issue a specific temporary state-aid framework to expedite public support to companies while ensuring the necessary level playing field in the Single Market as well as the recent extension of the framework to cover support for research, testing and production relevant in the fight against the COVID 19 pandemic.

  4. Use of the EU budget. We welcome the proposals by the Commission to make the best use of existing EU budget resources to fight the crisis. The proposal for a Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative was approved by the European Parliament and the Council and is in force as of the 1st of April. This will allow the use of EUR 37 billion under the cohesion policy to address the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, the scope of the Solidarity Fund was broadened to include major public health crises. Starting from the 1st of April, this allows the hardest hit Member States to get access to the financial support of up to EUR 800 million in 2020.

  5. Monetary Policy. We welcome the resolute action taken by the European Central Bank to support liquidity and financing conditions to households, businesses and banks, which will help to preserve the smooth provision of credit to the economy. On 18 March, the ECB decided to launch a EUR 750 billion Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP), to expand the range of eligible assets under the corporate sector purchase programme (CSPP) and to ease the collateral standards. These measures are aimed at ensuring that all sectors of the economy can benefit from supportive financing conditions that enable them to absorb the Covid-19 shock.

 

Additional crisis response instruments and preparing the ground for the recovery

  • EU budget flexibility

  • Emergency Support

  • Strengthening EIB activities

  • Safety nets in the EU and EA

  • SURE

  • Recovery Fund

  • Upcoming MFF

  • Roadmap for Recovery

NEXT STEPS:

The Eurogroup will pursue the work needed taking into account the intention of the Council Presidency to take the legislative proposals forward without delay.

7 april

First “ERA vs CORONA” Action Plan short-term coordinated Research and Innovation actions

 

10 priority actions for coordinated research and innovation actions:

 

1 Coordination of R&I funding against the Coronavirus

This action aims at giving national authorities a possibility to work closer and align activities through Programme level cooperation.

Extending and supporting large EU wide clinical trials for clinical management of Coronavirus patients

This action aims to gather additional funding to extend and support the implementation of large-scale, multi-centric clinical trials across Europe.

New funding for innovative and rapid health-related approaches to respond to coronavirus and deliver quick results relevant to society and a higher level of preparedness of health systems This action aims at funding innovative approaches for researchers and innovators to deliver quick results relevant to society focussing on (1) Social and economic impacts of the outbreak response; (2) Medical technologies and ICT-applications; (3) Health systems preparedness (including manufacturing).

Increasing support to innovative companies

This action aims at increasing support to the recently closed Horizon 2020 European Innovation Council pilot Accelerator using the opportunity of the bottom-up call where more than 1,000 coronavirus related applications have been received (out of a global number of around 4,000) to support the best applications relating to the coronavirus. It also aims at increasing support to research & innovation financial instruments addressing coronavirus related issues. This would assist with the increasing demand of financial support notably for rapid vaccines development and deployment / upscaling of good manufacturing practice production facilities of EU enterprises. It also includes establishing a Coronavirus European Innovation Council Platform for matchmaking services with dedicated groups and matchmaking services for start-ups and SMEs to exchange ideas on coronavirus innovations and connect with investors, public procurers, corporations and others.

Creating opportunities for other funding sources to contribute to R&I actions on Coronavirus

This action aims at awarding Seals of Excellence for coronavirus relevant innovations by SMEs/startups evaluated as excellent, but not selected for funding under the European Innovation Council calls. It would also request the consent of SMEs/startups to provide their contact details to Structural Fund managing authorities. Under this action, favourable treatment of state aid to COVID19 Seals of Excellence applies. Additional funding sources, e.g. national/regional funding, private foundations, InvestEU etc will be explored.

Establish a one-stop-shop for Coronavirus R&I funding

An “ERA Corona platform” will provide a complete overview of all ongoing R&I funding initiatives on the Coronavirus. See https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/portal/screen/covid-19

Establish an ad-hoc High-Level R&I Task Force on the Coronavirus

Without duplicating existing structures, such a new ad-hoc High-Level R&I Task Force could advise on possible R&I actions of EU relevance on identified medium and long-term priorities and communicate about coordinated R&I actions to the general public.

Access to Research Infrastructures

The availability of the services provided by Research Infrastructures (analytical facilities, biological samples, reagents, pathogen labs, regulatory support, social science Research Infrastructures etc.) and of the data they hold (e.g. for the re-testing of raw data and assessing the societal effects and effectiveness of pandemic responses) is vital for researchers working on the coronavirus. New services (including High-Performance Computing and Artificial Intelligence) and datasets are being brought on stream and it is important to match supply and demand across borders.

Research data sharing platform

This action aims to establish a European data exchange platform for SARS-CoV-2 and coronavirus-related information exchange, connected to the European Open Science Cloud. This will allow quick sharing of research data and results to accelerate discovery. Researchers should be required to provide immediate and fully open access and to share research outcomes (data, models, workflows, results) that are as FAIR as possible in real-time.

10 Pan-EU Hackathon to mobilise European innovators and civil society

The Commission has given patronage to a pan-European Hackathon (#EUvsVirus) which will be organised through a coalition with the organisers of the hackathons held in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. This Hackathon is expected to shorten the time to deployment of innovative solutions developed by start-ups and policymakers since innovators will be able to leverage the work already done by other innovators in Europe instead of starting from scratch or redoing the work done already by other innovators. It is also expected to provide information to hospitals and public administrations on the existing innovative solutions in the other Member States. The planned date for the Hackathon is 24-26 April 2020.

https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/research_and_innovation/research_by_area/documents/ec_rtd_era-vs-corona_0.pdf  

6 April

President Ursula von der Leyen has proposed a comprehensive set of measures that will:

  • Ensure the adequate supply of protective equipment and medical supplies across Europe;

  • Cushion the blow for people’s livelihoods and the economy by applying full flexibility of EU fiscal rules;

  • Set up a EUR 37 billion Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative to provide liquidity to small businesses and the health care sector.

  • Provide a coherent set of guidelines to Member States on border measures to protect citizens’ health while allowing the free flow of essential goods

  • Restrict temporarily non-essential travel to the European Union

 

https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/health/coronavirus-response/european-commissions-action-coronavirus_en

Coronavirus: Commission encourages and facilitates cross-border treatment of patients and deployment of medical staff

 

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_590

3 april

2 april

COVID-19 EU coronavirus response

 

1) Health measures;

2) Border and mobility measures;

3) Economic measures;

4) Promoting research including for a vaccine;

5) Fighting disinformation

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/FS_20_552

ONGOING

31 march

Strengthening resilience in countries hosting syrian refugees 

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_549 

30 march

30 march

23 march

20 march

19 march

18 march

18 march

Timeline - Council actions on COVID-19
 

https://eu2020.hr/Home/OneNews?id=219 

17 march

16 march

16 march

13 march

Commission sets out European coordinated response to counter the economic impact of the Coronavirus

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_459 

10 march

President of the European Council holds video conference with European Council members

During the meeting leaders identified four priorities:

  1. limiting the spread of the virus

  2. ensuring provision of medical equipment

  3. promoting research, including for a vaccine

  4. tackling socio-economic consequences

 

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2020/03/10/statement-by-the-president-of-the-european-council-following-the-video-conference-on-covid-19/ 

6 march

Council holds second extraordinary meeting of health ministers to discuss the latest developments

Ministers agreed that in order to counter the COVID-19 outbreak, it is important to:

  • further raise awareness on COVID-19

  • strengthen the protection of people at risk

  • establish containment measures, including evidence-based advice concerning travel to and from risk areas

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/epsco/2020/03/06/ 

4 march

Eurogroup discusses impact of COVID-19 on the economy

Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to coordinate responses and stand ready to use all appropriate policy tools to achieve strong, sustainable growth.

 

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2020/03/04/statement-on-the-situation-with-covid-19/ 

2 march

Global Arena Research Institute launches the "Beyond" Initiative 

The global COVID-19 emergency emphasizes local and nation-based responses and national

collectivism in general. In the short term, it is understandable. The multilateral institutions (including the EU) were not devised with such a scenario in mind.

However, in the long run, going national and going local is not the way forward. Nation-states cannot win the fight against COVID-19 (or similar threats in the future) by themselves. Moreover, there is a mounting risk that such a nationalist bias will endure and last beyond the COVID-19 crisis.

GARI believes, instead, that it is imperative to look "beyond" the local and national horizons

As of today, GARI launches the initiative "Beyond" to stress this point. We are starting by tracking and highlighting global, multilateral and EU-related measures to tackle COVID-19 and its consequences. We believe that the COVID-19 coverage in the (social) media favours reporting on national measures and national policies and politics, thus further prompts nationalism as such. 

Our subsequent goal is to follow on implementation and impact of these measures in a coherent and continuous manner.

Any suggestions, inputs or comments welcome (via FB messenger, LinkedIn or email beyond@globari.org)  

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The world must establish a genuine dialogue between the most advanced technologies and artificial reasoning capabilities on the one hand, and the normative and critical capabilities of the social sciences on the other. We have reached the point where their mutual inspiration and cross-fertilization is a must.

CONTACT

E: info@globari.org

© 2020 by GARI

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