European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)

Coronavirus: The European Union stands by Belarus

30/03/2020 - 13:10
News

As part of its global response to the coronavirus outbreak, the European Commission stands by Eastern Partner countries and has reallocated €140 million for the most immediate needs including for Belarus. In addition, the European Commission will also redirect the use of existing instruments worth up to €700 million across the region to help mitigate socio-economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.

EU-Belarus

Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Olivér Várhelyi said:

These are very difficult times not only for the EU, but for our partner countries, such as Belarus, as well. We have to do what we can to mitigate the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on human lives and livelihoods. Today’s package responds both to the immediate needs of the health systems, as well as a longer term needs to the most vulnerable groups in society and small and medium-sized enterprises, which are the backbone of the economies in the six countries”.

Responding to immediate needs:

  • Support to Belarus’ health system. At the request of the partner countries, including Belarus, the Commission will respond to immediate needs by supporting the supply of medical devices and personal equipment, such as ventilators, laboratory kits, masks, goggles, gowns, and safety suits. The European Commission is working with the World Health Organisation (WHO), and is deploying €30 million to ensure these necessary supplies are jointly purchased and effectively distributed to the health systems of the six countries in the coming weeks. In addition, the funds will support national health administrations to train medical and laboratory staff and carry out awareness raising measures to the wider population. This will be further complemented by ongoing collaboration between the EU, the UN and the Belarusian Red Cross.
  • Support to the people who are most affected by the crisis, together with civic partners. The EU has made available more than €11.3 million in small grants to civil society organisations across the region. These funds are already responding to immediate needs, through the ongoing regional “Rapid Response Mechanism”, such as supporting local schools with distance learning. By the summer, and as part this package, the Commission will the launch of the “Eastern Partnership Solidarity Programme” which will target the most affected parts of the populations through civil society support and notably sub-grants to smaller, local organisations.

Support to Belarus’ economy, notably small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs):

The European Union is working closely with International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and relevant financing institutions from EU Member States as TEAM EUROPE providing a coordinated European response for the real economy, including SMEs, in particular through:

  • Launching of a new regional support programme of €100 million to help SMEs, including self-employed and others to easily access credit and boost their businesses after the crisis.
  • Facilitating, simplifying, accelerating, and reinforcing €200 million worth of existing credit lines and grants to SMEs in local currency including through its EU4Business Initiative;
  • In addition, in the current crisis the EU has mobilised its major de-risking instrument worth €500 million, the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD). This will rapidly provide liquidly and can be urgently deployed by IFI partners to facilitate the provision of liquidity in the EU’s Neighbourhood including through working capital, trade finance, or moratoria on debt service.

The European Union also stands ready to provide assistance to Belarus through TAIEX, its peer to peer instrument, by using EU Member States expertise, experience and examples of good practice on assessing emergency preparedness response scheme and health systems.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has accelerated spread of myths and disinformation around it– coming from various sources both within and outside of the European Union. Learn more in the report on Disinformation on the coronavirus.

Information on the European Union’s coordination of a common European response to the outbreak of COVID-19 click here.

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