- Impact of COVID-19 on developing countries may be devastating
- International collaboration with other partners is essential
- Build pandemic defence within the EU, but also outside in support of other countries
Development Committee discussed EU measures to combat COVID-19 in developing countries, with International Partnerships Commissioner Urpilainen and Crisis Management Commissioner Lenarčič.
On Tuesday, MEPs highlighted the global nature of the pandemic, and therefore the need to work in solidarity both within the EU, and outside in support of partners. COVID-19 cases continue to evolve in Africa, where it is now present in 52 countries. Numbers are growing every day and experts believe that the pandemic in Africa could be more deadly than elsewhere in the world. The coronavirus is also spreading rapidly in other developing countries such as Yemen and Afghanistan.
Committee members highlighted the need to build pandemic defence not only within the EU, but also outside in partner countries. The effects of the pandemic could be devastating given the poor quality of the healthcare systems in some developing countries, which makes it essential for the EU to provide external support to its partners, they stress.
MEPs fully support all the efforts of the EU institutions to coordinate and strengthen its work within the European Union. Nevertheless, they underlined that the EU needs to marshal its global leadership and enhance international solidarity toward developing countries and more specifically to cooperate with partners in Africa on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commissioner Lenarčič stated that on 8 April, the European Commission adopted the communication on the global EU response to COVID-19 under which it will coordinate its actions with the EU member states, United Nations agencies and NGOs to support emergency humanitarian needs, strengthen health systems and mitigate economic and social consequences. The European Commission has so far provided EUR 30 million to the World Health Organization (WHO). This is not fresh money and options for mobilizing the reserve for humanitarian aid are being explored.
Commissioner Urpilainen promised that her team would follow up on the EU supported COVID-19 global initiatives to ensure the speedy operationalisation on the ground on three priorities: reallocate EUR 500 million to short-term emergency response; provide EUR 2.8 billion to bolster research as well as enhancing social protection, and provide EUR 12.3 billion to address social-economic impact of the pandemic. This is retargeted and not fresh money. She also said that the Commission would coordinate well with the EU member states and partners such as the W.H.O., multilateral lending institution and other partners in a global partnership to ensure maximum impact. Urpilainen added that the European Commission is co-organising an online pledging event on 4 May 2020, to team up with partners to boost funding for diagnostics, medicines and vaccines to up to 7.5 billion euros. By taking this lead, the EU aim to align efforts with other donors and initiatives such as Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
Commissioners Urpilainen and Lenarčič promised to work closely with MEPs on humanitarian response and development policy.
Quote: “Developing countries need us”
"Even if the external relations angle was somewhat absent in the weeks when the COVID-19 pandemic first affected EU countries, there is now an acute awareness that the situation in developing and crisis-affected countries makes it essential to provide an ambitious and action-oriented EU external response," said Tomas Tobé (EPP, SE), Chair of the Committee on Development.