10 things the EU is doing to fight the coronavirus
1. Slowing the spread of the virus
To help limit the transmission of the virus in Europe and beyond, the EU has closed its external borders to non-essential travel, while ensuring essential goods keep moving across the EU through the introduction of green lanes. Additional resources are foreseen for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, which provides rapid risk assessments and epidemiological updates on the outbreak.
2. Providing medical equipment
EU-countries have speedy access to the first ever RescEU stockpile of medical equipment, such as ventilators and protective masks, under the Civil Protection Mechanism. In addition, the EU has set up a huge international tender allowing member states to make joint purchases of equipment and drugs and is mobilising €3.08 billion in EU aid to purchase more tests and help medical staff care for patients. The EU has also organised an online fundraiser that aims to raise an initial €7.5 billion for vaccines, medicines and diagnostics to fight the coronavirus worldwide.
3. Promoting research
The EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme is funding 18 research projects and 151 teams across Europe to help find a vaccine quickly against Covid-19. The aim is to improve diagnostics, preparedness, clinical management and treatment.
4. Boosting European solidarity
The European Parliament has backed new rules allowing member states to request financial assistance from the EU Solidarity Fund to cover health emergencies. With the newly broadened scope of the fund, up to €800 million will be made available for member states this year to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
5. Assuring the EU’s recovery
To help the EU recover from the economic and social impact of the pandemic, the European Commission will come up with a fresh proposal for the EU's long-term budget for 2021-2027, which will include a stimulus package. MEPs called for a massive recovery and reconstruction package to be financed by an increased long-term budget for the EU, existing EU funds and financial instruments, as well as so-called recovery bonds. In addition, the Commission presented its post-lockdown roadmap for effective and coordinated exit strategy with large-scale testing and protective materials for people.
6. Supporting the economy
The EU is putting forward a €540 billion support package to tackle the crisis and support workers, businesses and member states. In addition, the European Central Bank is providing €750 billion to relieve government debt during the crisis, as well as €120 billion in quantitative easing and €20 billion in debt purchases. MEPs also voted in favour of making €37 billion from existing EU structural funds available to EU countries to tackle the coronavirus crisis and support healthcare, businesses and workers.
7. Protecting jobs
To ensure employees can keep their jobs when companies run out of work due to the coronavirus crisis, the Commission has proposed help for state-supported short time work (Sure). The European Commission has also unlocked €1 billion from the European Fund for Strategic Investments in guarantees to encourage banks and other lenders to provide up to €8 billion of liquidity in support to some 100,000 European businesses.
8. Repatriating EU citizens
Tens of thousands of Europeans stranded around the world by the outbreak have been returned home thanks to the EU Civil Protection mechanism.
9. Helping developing countries face the pandemic
The Commission has unlocked €20 billion to help non-EU countries fight the crisis as part of an EU package for a coordinated global response to tackle the spread of Covid-19.
10. Ensuring accurate information
The spread of disinformation about the coronavirus puts people´s health at risk. MEPs have called for a European information source to ensure that everyone has access to accurate and verified information in their language and have asked social media companies to tackle disinformation and hate speech.
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