The European Commission is working on all fronts to contain the spread of the coronavirus, support national health systems, protect and save lives, and counter the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic with historically unprecedented measures at both national and EU level.
Here are some examples of how the Commission helps tackle the crisis:
Supporting research for treatment, diagnostics and vaccines
The European Union is joining forces with global partners to kick-start a pledging effort – the Coronavirus Global Response – which started on 4 May 2020.
The Coronavirus Global Response pledging marathon runs until end of May.
In parallel, the Commission has mobilised €474 million since January to develop vaccines, new treatments, diagnostic tests and medical systems to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and save lives. It includes:
- €48.2 million for 18 new research projects, involving 151 research teams from across Europe and beyond;
- €72 million to the Innovative Medicines Initiative. The pharmaceutical sector contributed €45 billion more and 8 large-scale treatments and diagnostics research projects have now been awarded funding;
- €150 million in additional contribution to the European Innovation Council accelerator call;
- €122 million in an urgent call to strengthen capacity to manufacture and deploy solutions and to improve understanding of the epidemic.
|The Commission has offered CureVac, a highly innovative European vaccine developer, financial support in the form of an EU guarantee of an European Investment Bank loan.|
Direct support to the EU healthcare sector
The Commission will directly support the healthcare systems of the EU countries, with €3 billion from the EU budget, matched with €3 billion from the Member States, to fund the Emergency Support Instrument and RescEU’s common stockpile of equipment.
RescEU has been set up to create a reserve of medical equipment, from personal protective equipment to ventilators, vaccines and therapeutics. It is 100% EU funded. Germany and Romania are the first Member States to host the rescEU reserve. 350,000 protective facemasks have already been delivered to Italy, Spain, Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia.
This Emergency Support Instrument enables the Commission to procure directly on behalf of the Member States. It finances and coordinates transport of medical equipment and of patients in cross-border regions. At a later stage, it will help scaling up testing efforts.
Medical guidance for Member States
|In March, the Commission launched a panel of 7 independent epidemiologists and virologists, so they give guidelines on science-based and coordinated risk management measures and advise on:
|Based on scientific advice of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and from the advisory panel, the Commission published recommendations on community measures, such as physical distancing, on 19 March.|
|On 8 April, the Commission issued guidelines to optimise the supply and availability of medicines. They focus on the rational supply, allocation and use of vital medicines to treat patients and of medicines which may be at risk of shortage. The Commission also issued antitrust guidance on allowing limited cooperation among businesses, especially for critical hospital medicines. Finally, the Commission set up a ‘Clearing house for medical equipment’ that helps identify available supplies, including testing kits, and accelerates their matching with national demands.|
|On 15 April, the Commission issued guidelines on testing methodologies, to support the efficient use of testing kits by Member States, in particular when confinement measures are lifted.|
|On 16 April, the Commission published guidance on how to develop tracing mobile apps that fully respect EU data protection rules, in the context of the gradual lifting of containment measures.|
Availability of personal protective equipment (PPE)
|Ramping up production of personal protective equipment (PPE)
The Commission is helping ensure adequate supply of PPE across Europe, working closely with Member States to assess the available stock of PPE in the EU, the production capacity and anticipated needs.
|The Commission published a recommendation on conformity assessment and market surveillance. This will increase the supply of certain types of PPE, such as disposable facemasks, to civil protection authorities, without compromising health and safety standards.|
|The Commission is discussing with industry how to convert production lines to supply more PPE. The Commission also provided manufacturers with guidance to increase production in three areas: masks and other PPE, hand sanitizers and disinfectants and 3D printing.|
|At the Commission's request, the European Standardisation bodies and their national members made European standards for medical supplies freely available. This allows producers to get high-performing devices on to the market more quickly.|
Export authorisations required for personal protective equipment
Exports of personal protective equipment outside of the EU are currently subject to an export authorisation by Member States. Member States may grant authorisations where no threat is posed to the availability of such equipment in the Union, or on humanitarian grounds. The scheme was extended as of 26 April for another 30 days with a list of products reduced to masks, spectacles and protective garments. The exemption applying to several EU trade partners is also extended, among others to Western Balkans.
The Commission has launched 4 joint procurements of personal protective equipment and medical device with Member States: Call for hand and body protection Two calls, the first covering face masks, gloves, goggles, face-shields, surgical masks, overalls and the second for ventilators Joint procurement on testing kits
The Commission has launched 4 joint procurements of personal protective equipment and medical device with Member States:
Call for hand and body protection
Two calls, the first covering face masks, gloves, goggles, face-shields, surgical masks, overalls and the second for ventilators
Joint procurement on testing kits
The contracts have now been signed for all the calls and Member States can place their orders from these categories.
Borders and mobility
The Commission has issued:
|On 7 May, the Commission issued guidance to Member States to help them address the shortages of health workers. It will help them speed up the recognition of health workers' professional qualifications and clarify the rules to allow doctors and nurses in training to practise their profession.|
|EU guidelines on green lanes
On 23 March, the Commission issued guidelines on 'green lanes' to Member States to ensure speedy and continuous flow of goods across the EU and to avoid bottlenecks at key internal border crossing points.
Repatriation of EU citizens
Almost 600,000 citizens have been brought home thanks to EU consular cooperation. Via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, more than 67,000 EU citizens have been repatriated.
Support to airlines
On 26 March, the Commission issued guidance inviting EU Member States to support air cargo operations during the coronavirus crisis in order to keep essential transport flows moving, including medical supplies and personnel.
The EU is mobilising all available resources to respond quickly, forcefully and in a coordinated manner to the coronavirus pandemic. The total amount mobilised so far is around €3.4 trillion.
Tourism: allowing people to catch a break while rebooting a major economic sector
On 13 May the Commission presented a set of guidelines and recommendations for tourists, travellers and businesses.
This ‘Tourism and Transport Package’ aims to allow people to take holidays, tourism businesses to reopen, and to help Member States gradually lift travel restrictions while respecting the necessary health precautions,
This flexible approach, which allows tourism to continue, is based on epidemiological criteria, the application of containment measures, and economic and physical distancing considerations.
Providing economic guidance to Member States
The European Commission’s European Semester Spring Package, presented on 20 May, provides economic policy guidance to all EU Member States in the context of the pandemic. The recommendations focus on mitigating the crisis’ severe consequences in the short-term and on relaunching growth in the short-term to medium-term, in line with our green transition and digital transformation goals. They also place a specific emphasis on health.
Mobilising the EU budget and the European Investment Bank to save people's jobs and to support companies hit by the crisis.
The Commission’s SURE instrument protects jobs and people at work.
The Commission put forward Temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency – SURE – to help people keep their job during the crisis. On 19 May the Council adopted the proposal. The instrument will become available once all Member States provide their loan guarantees.
SURE provides funding to Member States of up to €100 billion by covering part of the costs related to the creation or extension of national short-time work schemes until 31 December 2022, and may be extended further.
Liquidity measures to help hard-hit small and medium businesses:
The Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative
The Commission tabled an investment initiative to provide Member States with immediate liquidity. It consists of unspent cohesion policy funds.
The initiative also includes:
- A 100% financing rate by the EU for measures to fight the crisis, so Member States do not have to frontload money
- New methods to reach the most vulnerable under the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived, such as home deliveries and the use of electronic vouchers to reduce the risk of spreading the virus
- Flexibility to redirect funding between programmes and regions to fund corona response-related actions
- Support to fishermen and farmers
State aid. The main fiscal response to the coronavirus will come from Member States’ national budgets. The Commission has adopted temporary state aid rules so governments can provide liquidity to the economy to support citizens and companies, in particular SMEs, and save jobs in the EU
|Rapid response. The Commission has adopted numerous decisions approving national measures by different Member States, such as guarantee schemes for companies and funds to support the production and supply of medical devices and masks. The Commission has approved 158 national measures notified by 26 Member States and the UK|
|Flexibility of the European fiscal framework. The European Commission has, for the first time, triggered the 'escape clause' to allow exceptional fiscal support. This will allow applying the maximum flexibility to our budgetary rules to help national governments financially support healthcare systems and businesses, and to keep people in employment during the crisis|
|European Central Bank response. The Commission’s economic measures will complement the European Central Bank’s €750 billion Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme of private and public securities during the crisis, in addition to the €120 billion programme decided earlier|
Screening of foreign direct investment. On 25 March, the Commission issued guidelines to help Member States screen foreign direct investments and acquisitions of control or influence. The aim is to protect critical European assets and technology in the current crisis
|The EU Solidarity Fund can provide support to Member States affected by public health crises like the one caused by the coronavirus|
|The Commission is in close contact with social media platforms. All big platforms took measures to promote authoritative content and to demote or take down misleading, illegal and harmful content, for instance conspiracy theories about the origin of the virus or its alleged intended spread.
Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová has met Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and others to discuss measures and further action.
So far more than 300 disinformation narratives on the coronavirus were exposed, published and updated on www.EUvsDisinfo.eu.
On 30 March, the Commission launched a webpage on fighting coronavirus-related disinformation, providing materials for myth busting and fact checking.
The Commission and the European External Action Service are working closely with other EU institutions and Member States, including through the Rapid Alert System set up in March 2019, as well as with international partners from the G7 and NATO.
Last update: 15 May 2020, 15:58