Covid-19: €3 billion emergency support for national health care systems

Parliament has adopted new measures mobilising €3 billion of targeted support for health care systems in EU regions that have been hit the hardest by the corona crisis.

EU emergency funds set to support national health systems

Europe’s health sectors are under extreme pressure because of the Covid-19 outbreak. The EU is mobilising an additional €3.08 billion to support national healthcare systems in fighting the pandemic and providing medical services to patients in need. The measures were approved by MEPs on 17 April.

The initiative serves to coordinate resource distribution and cross-border cooperation, with a focus on the most affected regions. It will help with the construction of field hospitals and coordinate and financially support the transportation of corona patients to hospitals with free capacity.

The money will also be used to directly purchase and distribute medical supplies such as respirators, protective equipment and reusable masks. Other actions are possible, depending on the needs of EU countries. In the longer term, the funds will improve medical research and testing capacities in EU countries.

The funds come from all remaining available means in this year’s budget.

  • €2.7 billion will be put into the EU's Emergency Support Instrument
  • €380 million will go to the rescEU reserve of medical equipment

Member states can also contribute financially and people or foundations can make donations. Crowd-funding is also possible.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Paris ©Benoit Tessier/Reuters/Adobe Stock
©Benoit Tessier/Reuters/Adobe Stock

What is the EU's Emergency Support Instrument?

  • A tool to fight severe crises with significan humanitarian impact where no other available instrument is sufficient
  • It enables immediate EU assistance
  • It has been designed so that it can be used alongside existing measures
  • It has already been activated to help to deal with influx of refugees in Greece
  • The European Commission proposes to activate it for two years to help with coronavirus emergency

An expert task force will monitor ongoing developments in close cooperation with national health authorities, international organisations and non-governmental organisations. Operations will start as soon as Parliament and Council have approved it.

What is rescEU?

  • An European reserve, set up to assist when the resources of member states are insufficient
  • initially included a fleet of firefighting planes and helicopters. Because of Covid19, it has stockpiled medical equipment, such as ventilators and protective masks, to help countries facing shortages