Europe Pledges Billions to Aid Developing Nations to Fight COVID-19
On April 8, the European Union announced that they were launching an initiative called “Team Europe,” which would secure €15.6 billion of financial support toward nations seen as highly vulnerable to the potentially devastating effects of COVID-19. The “team” is coming up with resources from the EU, its member states, and major financial institutions such as the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
What Is Team Europe?
The funding for this will come from a variety of places. One source is the reorientation of existing funds to programs that cannot currently be carried out due to the pandemic, as well as programs making pre-existing programs more relevant to handling the virus. Another is the European Investment Bank, which will be providing €5.2 billion of aid in emergency response, funding medical research to help find a vaccine and providing those on the ground with PPE (personal protective equipment).
Finally, the EU will be partnering with aid charities such as Oxfam and Caritas who are currently on the ground in these nations, providing much needed medical care and first aid experience to help treat those who have become infected.
Who Are They Helping?
“Team Europe” has decided to focus their aid on relief for nations in “Africa, the Western Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa, parts of Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean.” They are specifically centering their attention on those most at risk: women, children, the elderly, and disabled people, as well as migrants, refugees, displaced persons and their host communities. The EU also wants to provide economic support for small and medium-sized businesses and self-employed persons in the private sector.
What Is The Plan
There are three parts to “Team Europe’s” funding for at-risk nations. Part one is sending €502 million immediately for emergency response actions. This includes supporting the WHO and the UN to continue work on the ground that they have already been doing, as well as appealing to the Red Cross and the Red Crescent Movement to increase emergency preparedness and response. They are also ramping up production of PPE in European factories and ensuring that everyone has access to health, water, sanitation and proper hygiene.
Part two will utilize €2.8 billion to increase communication and awareness for protective measures and hygiene advice to limit the spreading of the disease. The EU will accomplish this by funding global health initiatives such as “Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and the Global Financial Facility to be used to respond to the coronavirus.” Finally, this phase of the plan will emphasize the importance of equal access to healthcare for migrants and refugees who have been living in refugee camps to escape war-torn nations.
The final phase is the largest, with €12.28 billion being set aside to decrease the long term social and economic consequences that the pandemic will have on the previously stated nations. This involves working with these nations to adopt reforms for “socio-economic development and poverty reduction”, as well as taking measures to protect workers during the crisis to keep the maximum number of people employed. The EU will also be providing loans from the European Investment Bank for healthcare equipment and other medical supplies, and finally, providing debt relief by the International Monetary Fund in affected countries.
Why Are They Helping?
During the announcement of “Team Europe,” Vice President of the EU Joseph Borrell stated that in order to overcome the pandemic, it would require a united, global action to take place. If the virus continues in other parts of the world, it will return to Europe. Moreover, European nations that make up “Team Europe” saw the devastating impact COVID-19 had on many of their own nations, which have some of the best healthcare in the world. They are aware that “the crisis could have consequences of an entirely different scale in other parts of the world,” according to Borrell. It is the duty of the EU to help other nations escape the horrific and deadly fate that COVID-19 has already had in many places across the globe.
– Sophie van Leeuwen