Building on our strategic partnership, shared values and commitment to multilateralism, Canada and the European Union (EU) are working intensively together to address the significant consular, public health and economic challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.
Getting our citizens home safely. Our people-to-people links are the foundation of our relationship. Canada, the EU and EU member states have assisted each other’s stranded nationals to return home from our respective territories and from around the world. We are facilitating transit through Canadian and EU airports, providing access to spare capacity on our respective repatriation flights and advocating for the maintenance of commercial air links between Europe and North America.
Developing effective vaccines, therapies and diagnostics. Collaboration in international research and innovation is essential in the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU and Canada are committed to increasing research and innovation funding for vaccines, therapies and diagnostics, to leverage digital technologies, and to strengthen scientific international cooperation. We support the leadership of the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness network and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) in international efforts to develop vaccines. We also support initiatives on data sharing for all COVID-19-related funded research at the global level, such as the UNESCO plea on data sharing and open science, as well as the open letter to publishers on open access to COVID-19 research, signed in March by the European Commission and Canada and 14 other countries.
On direct funding, Canada recently announced a further contribution to CEPI of Can$40 million, while the EU has undertaken several emergency initiatives, including two emergency calls for research and innovation projects: €48 million in funding for the launch of 18 new Horizon 2020 research and innovation projects, and a €45-million call of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).
Protecting the flow of vital supplies across borders. The Canadian and EU economies are highly intertwined. We are working together to make sure that critical materials aimed at protecting our health workers and citizens can continue to cross borders. We are reviewing our own emergency measures and are pressing the international community to maintain open and connected supply chains to facilitate the flow of essential goods, especially medical equipment to combat the pandemic. We remain committed to a transparent, rules-based trading system more generally, as a means to support the resilience of supply chains to continue to function in this crisis and to expedite the economic recovery that will follow.
Strengthening the global response. The EU and Canada are reinforcing relevant international organisations, with the World Health Organization leading the global response, and are assisting developing countries and non-governmental organisations in the fight against COVID-19. To date, Canada has announced over Can$160 million in direct support of global efforts to address the COVID-19 outbreak, while the EU will secure €15.6 billion to help partner countries to face COVID impacts. In order to step up global efforts to address the COVID-19 outbreak, we are engaged in actively supporting an international pledging conference in cooperation with the WHO and its Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, and in assisting developing countries and non-governmental organisations in the fight against COVID-19. The EU and Canada recall that both the UN and our own autonomous sanctions regimes provide for humanitarian exceptions; the application of these exceptions should enable humanitarian assistance to reach the most vulnerable populations.
Countering disinformation. Canada and the EU are longstanding partners in promoting security and prosperity around the world. Together, we are working through the G7 Rapid Response Mechanism, which is linked to the EU’s Rapid Alert System, to identify and respond to foreign threats to our democracies, including the spread of disinformation and myths about the virus and efforts to undermine our unity. We underline the need to defend media freedom and the free exchange of information more than ever during such times of crisis.
Canada and the EU underline the value in bilateral and multilateral cooperation as our citizens, and the global community, face unprecedented challenges to public health and economic stability. We will continue to act, in mutually supportive ways, to address the crisis and then to move beyond it.