European solidarity in the face of COVID-19

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Against COVID-19, we are stronger together. We will not overcome this crisis without a strong and unified European revival. The European Union has already taken measures and those efforts are continuing both at European level and between countries themselves.

A shared European response

France played a leading role in encouraging the EU to take the measure of the crisis as, on 10 March 2020, it requested an extraordinary European Council meeting and called for coordinated border measures to prevent countries adopting an individualist approach.

The Heads of State and Government have since then taken several measures to coordinate our public health efforts, to protect Europeans and to reduce the socioeconomic impact of the epidemic:
1. Pool medical equipment (protective equipment, respiratory ventilators and laboratory kits) by creating the first ever common reserve of medical equipment and joint procurement to purchase personal protective equipment. This also requires a concerted effort to increase production capacities. At the same time, export permits have been made mandatory to export individual protection items outside Europe.
2. Support research on a COVID-19 vaccine. On May 4, the European Commission organized an online global donors conference that raised € 7.4 billion to develop and distribute coronavirus diagnostic tools, treatments and vaccines around the world.
3. Pool efforts to allow European citizens stranded outside the EU while travelling to return home..
4. Facilitate movement within the EU, not just for goods, through priority corridors at internal borders for supplying hospitals, shops and factories for example, but also for people where necessary, particularly cross-border workers or European citizens returning home.
5. Respond to the crisis by reallocating €37 billion of the EU budget to the cohesion policy.
6. Support companies and workers by relaxing rules on state aid.
7. Suspend the Stability and Growth Pact to enable Member States to waive budgetary regulations in light of the pandemic..
The European Commission is responsible for effectively implementing these measures. Further measures are currently being discussed at European level to tackle this unprecedented crisis.

The fight against COVID-19 in figures
  • €40 billion from the European Investment Bank to support middle-market companies and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises).
  • €37 billion from the EU budget via the cohesion policy, including €650 million for France.
  • €140 million for research on a vaccine.
  • €179 million could be mobilized to support laid-off and self-employed workers.
  • €125 million for the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (co-financing of repatriation flights and equipment purchases).
  • €3.6 million for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
  • €500 billion for measures to support the economies of the EU Member States.
  • Another measure is the European Central Bank’s exceptional €1,350 billion “Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP)” which will buy eurozone state and corporate debt on the markets.

    For the fourth time since the beginning of the COVID-19 health crisis, a European Council took place via videoconference on 23 April 2020. The Heads of State and Government agreed on the need for a vast economic recovery plan, the modalities of which are currently being discussed. No country can overcome the crisis alone and solidarity must continue to be our common thread, now and after the epidemic.

    A concrete solidarity

    European coordination, pooling of information, good practice and crisis management mechanisms have been activated. The work of the Ministers in charge of the sectors affected by the crisis as well as committees of experts, notably from the health sector (in particular the health security committee, where France is represented by the Ministry of Solidarity and Health), are clear examples.

    Finally, solidarity between European countries has been clearly visible and continues to be seen on a daily basis, as countries agree to patient transfers to relieve their hardest-hit partners, through donations of medical equipment (e.g. Italy received over 3 million masks from its neighbours), through shared efforts to enable Europeans stranded while travelling abroad to return home, or through joint medical research programmes.

    Discussions are now under way to coordinate measures of the end of lockdown between States within the Schengen area. The Commission has also set up a system for monitoring the application of emergency measures taken by the Member States, in order to guarantee respect for the fundamental values ​​of the Union.

    International solidarity

    On 8 April the European Commission and the High Representative announced "Team Europe" measures to support the efforts made by partner countries against the COVID-19 pandemic, with €15.6 bn funded by the EU, Member States and EU financial institutions. The first "Team Europe" measures are already being deployed.

    For example the DG ECHO, supported by France and other Member States, has set up a humanitarian air bridge for countries where it is most needed, in particular in Africa. €10 million have been allocated to this inititative, which should help organize 30 humanitarian flights (carrying medical equipment and personnel).

    Since this message from Amélie de Montchalin was recorded on 31 March, new countries have come forward in solidarity and taken in French patients. We thank them for their help.

    Updated: May 2020