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30 March 2020, 18:13

EU redirects €840m to help Eastern Partnership countries fight coronavirus

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MINSK, 30 March (BelTA) – The European Union has decided to support its Eastern neighbors in the fight against the coronavirus and redirected €840 million to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, BelTA learned from the EU Delegation to Belarus.

“As part of its global response to the coronavirus outbreak, the European Commission stands by its Eastern partner countries and has reallocated €140 million for the most immediate needs of the Eastern Partnership countries, including Belarus. In addition, the European Commission will also redirect up to €700 million across the region to help mitigate the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus crisis in the whole region,” the EU Delegation noted.

“These are very difficult times not only for the EU, but for our partner countries, such as Belarus, as well,” Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Oliver Varhelyi said. “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 more long-term needs of the most vulnerable groups in the society and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are the backbone of the economies in the six countries,” he added.

Speaking about support to Belarus' health system, the delegation noted: “At the request of the partner countries, including Belarus, the European Commission will help with supplies 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 Organization (WHO), and is deploying €30 million to ensure these necessary supplies are jointly purchased and effectively distributed 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.”

The European Union is working closely with international financial institutions and organizations from the EU member states, such as TEAM EUROPE, providing a coordinated European response for the real economy, through the launch of a new €100-million regional support program to help SMEs, including the self-employed and others, easily get loans and boost their businesses after the crisis.

In addition, in the current crisis the EU has mobilized 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 partner international financial institutions to facilitate the provision of liquidity in the EU's Neighborhood, including through working capital, trade finance, or moratorium on debt service,” the EU Delegation to Belarus noted.

The European Union also stands ready to provide assistance to Belarus through TAIEX, its peer to peer instrument.

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