Coronavirus: Team Europe continues to deliver with more than €26 billion disbursed in support to partner countries in one year

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


One year ago today, the European Commission and the High Representative set out plans for a targeted EU response to support partner countries’ efforts in tackling the Coronavirus pandemic combining resources from the EU, its Member States and European financial institutions, as ‘Team Europe’. By 1 January 2021, Team Europe had already supported partner countries around the world with more than €26 billion, 65% of the overall response package that now stands at over €40 billion and exceeding the original €20 billion pledged.

Team Europe is also working to ensure global, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and supporting the rollout of vaccination campaigns, while exploring possibilities for boosting local manufacturing capacity. The EU played a leading role in setting up the COVAX Facility, the global initiative that allows for high-income countries to fund vaccines for low and middle-income countries and where Team Europe is one of its leading donors, with over €2.2 billion.

Over 130 countries supported around the world

In 2020, Team Europe spent €3.2 billion in support of the emergency response to humanitarian needs – more than 90% of its committed €3.5 billion – amongst others, on:

  • Supplying more than 11.3 million pieces of protective equipment and medical equipment such as ventilators, ICU beds, patient triage containers, ambulances and 30,000 smaller medical devices in the Western Balkans. Emergency support also provided more than 80,000 COVID tests, material to calibrate another 580,000 tests and 25,000 litres of disinfectant.
  • Providing through the EU and WHO Solidarity for Health Initiative in the Eastern Neighbourhood substantial medical supplies, including over 11 million items of personal protective equipment, 12,000 lab kits, over 1,500 ventilators, oxygen concentrators and pulse oximeters, and over 20,000 PCR testing kits.
  • Providing targeted assistance to vulnerable migrants and refugees in North Africa through the EU Trust Fund Africa’s regional emergency response programme.
  • Ensuring the continued provision of humanitarian and medical supplies and personnel to third countries via the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge launched in May 2020. From May to October 2020, it successfully carried out 67 flights to 20 countries on four continents. It deployed 1,150 tonnes of essential medical and humanitarian supplies as well as medical and humanitarian staff. Acquiring vital medical equipment such as ventilators and oxygen concentrators, and protective and intensive care equipment for health facilities and workers, via €10 million from the EU and Germany to the Economic Community of West African States.
  • Providing support for access to safe water, expansion of sanitation facilities and promotion of good hygiene practices to combat the spread of the virus in the Horn of Africa. In Somalia, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) implemented triage areas at the entrance to hospitals, provided tents for isolation to the Mogadishu hospital and implemented a surveillance system to monitor suspected cases at clinics supported by the Somali Red Crescent. In addition, the ICRC recruited additional nursing staff to support COVID-19 operations, installed hand-washing points, trained staff on COVID-19, provided personal protective equipment and organised health education.
  • Strengthening emergency response and preparedness in ten countries via a €30 million contribution to the Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan of the World Health Organisation (WHO). For example, in Afghanistan. More than 1.5 million people have been reached through communication on risk and community engagement activities. Over 3,000 health professionals have been trained in infection prevention and control, over 100,000 people have benefited from laboratory testing, and more than 4,000 patients have been hospitalised and received hospital care.
  • Training local communities to better face the impact of the pandemic, for example in Colombia, where five Immediate Response Teams for prevention, preparedness and response to emergencies, were also set up. In Venezuela, an EU-funded project trained 200 mothers on COVID-19 prevention measures, and distributed 15,600 hygiene kits to vulnerable families and staff of soup kitchens.

In 2020, Team Europe spent €3.5 billion on strengthening of health, water and sanitation systems – 41% of its commitment of €8.5 billion – amongst others, on:

  • Supporting the Western Balkans and Eastern Neighbourhood, in collaboration with the WHO, to help to prepare for the reception and administration of COVID-19 vaccines and to improve the resilience against health emergencies.
  • Funding specific coronavirus actions on health, water and sanitation in Jordan and Lebanon through the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis.
  • Enhancing technical and financial support to the Health Ministry in Morocco for the reform of the health sector and extending the coverage of health services for the population. In Tunisia, the “Essaha Aziza” programme has been beefed up to cover all public health hospitals.
  • Creating a new partnership between the Africa Centres for Disease Control and prevention (Africa CDC) and the European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) to strengthen the capacity of Africa CDC to prepare for and respond to public health threats in Africa. This four-year project will facilitate continental harmonised surveillance of infectious diseases, data sharing and early detection of threats, as well as preparedness, risk assessment, rapid response and emergency operations.
  • Supporting the immediate activation of the coronavirus update of the disease tracking system SORMAS in Nigeria and Ghana. Ivory Coast and Nepal now also use this technology to track the spread of the coronavirus, thanks to Team Europe support.
  • Supporting a regional disaster preparedness operation in Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam. Complementing government efforts to support households affected by COVID-19, this innovative operation has reached households that have been left behind or excluded from governmental programmes and at risk of compounded shocks.
  • Supporting health sector preparedness and response activities in the Pacific and Timor Leste, by joining forces with the WHO-led Pacific Joint Incident Management Team. Activities include support for the limited capacity and capability to diagnose, the treatment and management of COVID-19 cases and the delivery of essential services, equipment and medication.
  • Strengthening the capacities of the national production of materials and equipment to combat COVID-19 in Cuba. 250 ventilators will be produced, distributed throughout the country. Production lines were also set up for elements such as surgical masks, goggles and protective masks, and for the manufacture and sterilization of swabs for the collection of nasal samples. In addition, the prototype for a non-invasive pulmonary ventilator is being developed.

In 2020, Team Europe spent €19.5 billion on mitigating the social and economic consequences of the pandemic. It has now delivered 68% of its commitment of €28.4 billion, amongst others, on:

  • Providing a lifeline to businesses in the Western Balkans by involving up to 70 local banks in the region in providing easier access to credit for the private sector. Through the EIB, the EU is also providing substantial funds for additional loans for public sector investments and further credit to enterprises, to help safeguard jobs for the many people working in SMEs in the region.
  • Providing € 3 billion in macro-financial assistance to support the Western Balkans and the Neighbourhood countries in balancing the payment crisis.
  • Providing credit lines and grants in local currency through the EU4Business Initiative and grants for agricultural and rural development in Armenia and Georgia, as part of the overall support to limit the social and economic impact on SMEs in the Eastern Partnership
  • Strengthening regional finance facilities to support SMEs and to provide immediate liquidity, more local currency funding and trade finance in the Southern Neighbourhood to respond to the economic challenges of the crisis.
  • Working closely with the Palestinian Authority to respond to the economic challenges and the broader social impact of the crisis by supporting incomes and providing assistance to the poorest households, and to create an enabling environment for the development of the private sector, including by funding a business advice programme in Palestine, run by the EBRD.
  • Addressing the economic and social consequences of the pandemic in the Central African region, through EU budget support payments in Cameroon, Central African Republic and Sao Tome e Principe, through projects of food security in Congo and Malawi, and through job creation and youth empowerment in Cameroon and Gabon.
  • In Ghana, for example, €86.5 million in emergency budget support gave Ghana the fiscal space to address the coronavirus pandemic and to continue financing basic public services such as healthcare and education, strengthening its resilience.

Building on the success of the Team Europe approach, the EU and its Member States have agreed to step it up by jointly designing, funding and implementing Team Europe Initiatives. In the next programming cycle, these will be transformational projects for our partner countries and will focus on major priority areas of the EU in line with partner countries’ needs.

Members of the College said:

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, commented: “The virus has shaken the entire world. As Team Europe, we are working tirelessly with our partners across the globe to cushion the impact of the pandemic and set a path towards a sustainable recovery. We also need to start work now to ensure we are better prepared to address together future health crisis. This is why the European Commission and the Italian Presidency of the G20 will convene the Global Health Summit on 21 May.

High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell, stated: “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that an effective response to a global crisis requires a multilateral approach. Team Europe is a good example of how multilateralism should deliver to the benefit of all, leaving no one behind in the joint endeavour to overcome the pandemic.

Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “I am proud to see that Team Europe does not only further increase its commitments towards our partner countries in the COVID-19 response, but is also steadily delivering on its promises with concrete results, having delivered nearly two thirds of its announced support measures. Team Europe is mobilising €8 billion for actions in Africa and close to €4 billion have been already delivered in Sub-Saharan Africa. . We will only bring this pandemic to an end and recover from it together.

Enlargement and Neighbourhood Commissioner, Olivér Várhelyi, added, “Team Europe has shown that we are stronger together. The EU as a whole has delivered first and foremost to its immediate neighbours. Around €12 billion were disbursed in support for our Western Balkan partners and neighbours to the East and South to help them address the health emergency, strengthen the resilience of their health care systems, maintain employment and social protection and provide support for the economic recovery.”

Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “The Team Europe approach has already proved its solid value in our joint fight against COVID-19 by deploying the European humanitarian and civil protection capacities – from the repatriation of stranded EU citizens to Humanitarian Air Bridges that provided life-saving support when commercial flights were grounded due to the pandemic. We are determined to continue using all tools in our future initiatives, such as the EU Humanitarian Emergency Response Capacity.”

Background

The ‘Team Europe’ package was launched on 8 April 2020 to support EU partner countries in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences. The financial support initially pledged was for around €20 billion and combined resources from the EU, its Member States, and financial institutions, in particular the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

This collective global support is focused on 1) emergency response and immediate humanitarian needs; 2) strengthening health, water, sanitation and nutrition systems, and 3) mitigating the social and economic consequences of the pandemic.

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