At 355 billion euros, the EU's structural and cohesion funds constitute a significant chunk of spending.
Filmed in Poland, the latest Euronews’ Real Economy episode is now available in 10 languages, focusing on how the European Social Fund is tackling the coronavirus crisis.
In these exceptional times, however, there is a call for exceptional measures and to help member-states cope with the coronavirus emergency, 54 billion euros of the fund has recently been redistributed.
The money, which has been taken from unused reserves will go towards healthcare spending, like masks or hospital equipment, short-term employment schemes, and to companies, so they can pay staff.
The coronavirus crisis has hit the Poland’s healthcare system hard. One out of six confirmed cases are thought to be healthcare professionals.
Malgorzata works as a pulmonologist. At the start of the crisis she says there was a serious lack of PPE, but thanks to an initiative supported by the European Social Fund, hospitals one are now getting the vital material they need.
"Being able to buy this equipment has brought us, let’s say, some comfort," Malgorzata says, adding: "It’s state of the art, enabling us to monitor patients at their bedside, but more importantly, they are also connected to a control panel, which is far from the patient’s bed, so safe for the hospital staff. This European funding is vital, like many countries Poland wasn’t ready for such a pandemic."
When the epidemic hit, Izabela (paediatric department of Torun Hospital for 25 years) volunteered with her friend to help staff treating patients with COVID-19.
“We wear these protective suits and keep them all the time when on the ward. We assume the whole ward could be infected. When we are close to patients that have tested positive for coronavirus, we use additional protection, such as aprons, visors, HEPA masks, gloves."
More than 10 percent of funding for 2020 will be channelled to fight the pandemic in Poland. The country's minister for Development Funds and Regional Policy, believes the move could save hundreds of thousands of jobs.
"I think it's a lot of money, and money that can do a lot of good in these areas, hospitals, entrepreneurs. The money could help save half a million jobs. In this situation, in which we are now, we must also rethink the priorities of cohesion policy. We think that this policy should, as well, be adapted as possible to the specific situation in individual countries and the current economic situation because it's very dangerous to stay at the same level."
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