More investment in public health to show solidarity.

UM – 04/2020

As part of urgent Commission initiatives and for the first time ever via remote voting, two regulations passed the European Parliament (EP) on 26 March. Their aim is to help the EU countries through the coronavirus crisis.

New: EUSF funding for health emergencies

The proposal for a Regulation amending Council Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002 extends the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) in order to  provide financial assistance to Member States and third countries negotiating their accession to the Union which are seriously affected by a major public health emergency. The scope of the EUSF will be expanded to cover measures which assist the population in health crises and to contain the further spread of an infectious disease. In addition, advance payments for disasters are to be increased from 10% to 25% of the EUSF contribution. In addition, the total budget for advances from the Fund is to be increased from €50 to €100 million, thus doubling the amount of the EUSF contribution.

New: Support for SMEs during a health crisis

The aim of an additional proposal (amending Regulations (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013 and (EU) No 508/2014) is to launch a Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative. The Commission proposes the release of €8 billion of investment liquidity from the European Structural and Investment Funds. The Commission intends to do away with a request to refund unspent funds from advance payments for various funds this year. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will be used to help finance working capital for small and medium-sized enterprises to enable them to respond effectively to a public health crisis.

Based on the average co-financing rates across Member States, the additional liquidity should trigger the release and use of around €29 billion of structural funding, so that a total of €37 billion can be used for investments to address the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. To ensure funds start flowing as soon as possible, a task force has been set up to coordinate work with the Member States.