The European Union (EU) stands by Montenegro and all countries of the Western Balkans, to help them address both the COVID-19 outbreak and its aftermath.
The EU has made available €3 million to address some of the most urgent needs of the health sector in Montenegro. Together with the national authorities, preparations have also started on a €50 million crisis response package by bringing forward and reprogramming already available pre-accession funds dedicated to Montenegro. These funds will aim to both boost further EU’s investment in the health sector while also focusing on the social and economic consequences of this crisis.
“Europe is facing an unprecedented public health crisis. In these difficult times, cooperation and solidarity are key. The EU is Montenegro's main partner and donor, having already donated over 12 million Euros for the health sector. Today, once again, we stand together with our Montenegrin friends. We have therefore allocated 3 million Euros which Montenegro will be able to use for urgent needs such as procuring equipment, hygienic products and other needed items for hospitals and health centres. Responding to the needs of the Government of Montenegro, we are also designing a programme worth 50 million Euros which will provide further support to the health system, but which will also help to stimulate the economy, support entrepreneurs, provide assistance to the most vulnerable of the society and offer support to other sectors affected by the situation. I am sure that, together, we will come out of this crisis stronger”, said Aivo Orav, EU Ambassador and Head of EU Delegation to Montenegro.
The EU is also seeking ways to associate Montenegro to new initiatives undertaken across EU Member States in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how best to use EU’s existing regional programmes to help the Western Balkan region. The implementation of other planned programmes and projects in Montenegro that can bring relief to the private sector, the labour market and the social sector will be accelerated.
The EU Delegation in Podgorica will be working closely with the Montenegrin authorities in monitoring the evolvement of the current situation and in bringing relief to the people who need it most in Montenegro. Working together, we will come through this crisis stronger.
Support to the most vulnerable
through our existing projects. Together with HELP, Phiren Amenca and the Red Cross, we have started distributing 600 emergency aid packages for 400 Roma and Egyptian families in Nikšić, Berane, Bijelo Polje, Herceg Novi.
Assistance provided to the health sector
The EU has already invested close to €4 million in the health care sector and another €8 million assistance package has been prepared for next year. Assistance provided thus far included the procurement of 12 ambulance vehicles for health centres across Montenegro as well search and rescue equipment for Mountain Rescue services. Support was also provided to civil society organisations who implement important work in the health sector such as for example improving medical care for pregnant mothers and infants, ensuring equal access to health and justice for marginalised groups, de-stigmatising mental health and equipping flood and emergency rescue organisations, especially in border areas.
An additional €8 million EU health assistance programme is under preparation with the Ministry of Health and should start in 2021. The EU will support the construction of a new hospital wing as part of the Podgorica Clinical Centre and the upgrading and equipping of up to 12 microbiological laboratories.
EU socio-economic support
Best use should also be made of the ongoing €18 million, which has already proved grants to entrepreneurs with a special focus on the unemployed and vulnerable citizens such as women, young people and people with disabilities.