The EU has put international cooperation at the forefront of its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Following an agreement reached between President von der Leyen and Premier Li Keqiang last month, a donation of protective equipment from China to the European Union has now arrived in Rome, Italy.
“We are grateful for China's support and, as President von der Leyen stated, we need each other's support in times of need. The EU and China have been working together since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. In February, the EU already delivered 56 tonnes of equipment to China,” said Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management.
The Chinese plane delivered 2 million surgical masks, 200,000 N95 masks and 50,000 testing kits to Italy. Following the direct donation from China to the EU, the Emergency Response Coordination Centre coordinated the distribution to Italy.
In February, over 56 tonnes of supplies (protective clothing, disinfectant and medical masks) were delivered to China, provided by France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Estonia, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
The Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) is the heart of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and coordinates the delivery of assistance to disaster-stricken countries, such as relief items, expertise, civil protection teams and specialised equipment. The centre ensures the rapid deployment of emergency support and acts as a coordination hub between all EU Member States and the 6 additional Participating States, the affected country, and civil protection and humanitarian experts. The centre operates 24/7 and can help any country inside or outside the EU affected by a major disaster upon request from the national authorities or a UN body.
The EU Civil Protection Mechanism strengthens cooperation between Member States/Participating States in the field of civil protection, with a view to improving prevention, preparedness and response to disasters. Through the Mechanism, the European Commission plays a key role in coordinating the response to disasters in Europe and beyond.