People arrive and settle aboard of an evacuation plane
31 March 2020

European Union acts in solidarity against Covid-19

All of the European Union (EU) Member States have taken tangible, effective and inclusive measures against Covid-19.

 

What france is doing for its European partners

France was the first to ask Europe to take stock of the crisis by convening the extraordinary European Council meeting on 10 March 2020.

France has played an active part in repatriating European nationals stranded abroad:
  • as early as late January, with three flights which repatriated 150 European nationals from Wuhan (in addition to 200 French citizens),
  • with France’s permission for cruise ship passengers to disembark on its soil in the last two weeks of March, so enabling them to return more quickly to their European countries of residence,
  • more recently, with dozens of commercial and special flights organised to bring home French nationals stranded abroad, which France also allowed other European citizens to board. In all, more than 150,000 European citizens, including 100,000 French citizens, have been able to return to Europe.

What other European countries are doing for France

Three of France’s neighbours (Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg) have offered to admit intensive care patients to their hospitals.

In all, more than 120 offers of admission have been received, and the vast majority of patients have already been transferred.

How the EU is organising its solidarity efforts

Europe is organising itself by taking coordinated measures to avoid leaving everyone to fend for themselves: because its States have not all been stricken at the same time, these measures can be carried out as and when countries need them, in an effective spirit of solidarity.

Europe has organised itself in terms of border management:
 
  • a joint response to its external borders to protect the European area and limit arrivals from third countries,
 
  • coordination inside Europe to enable goods, cross-border workers and Europeans returning to their country to move around freely. As such, the movements of French cross-border workers critical to the smooth delivery of essential services, the health service in particular, in neighbouring countries (Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland), have been facilitated.

The EU is also organising itself in terms of managing medical supplies.

To ensure a collective response to the requirements for medical supplies, joint procurement has been set up for protective equipment, ventilators and laboratory kits; a strategic European stockpile of medical equipment has been set up with a budget of €50m, particularly for securing ventilators and protective masks; export authorisations are now required for exports outside the European Union.

Moreover, European countries are coordinating and pooling their efforts to repatriate European citizens stranded abroad: 2,294 European citizens have already benefited from collective repatriation operations, co-funded by the EU.

Europe is also organising the coordination and pooling of research efforts on developing a vaccine: budgetary resources have swiftly been unlocked (€140m).

Over and above the health emergency, Europe is taking action on the economic repercussions:
  • the rules on budgetary discipline have been suspended: States may inject as much money as they need into tackling the economic fallout of the health crisis,
  • businesses in need may access State aid: the rules governing government support for industry have been relaxed,
  • a €750bn plan to buy government bonds has been unveiled by the European Central Bank to support businesses and improve States’ borrowing conditions.
Furthermore, the European Investment Bank is poised to lend up to €40bn worth of support to mid-caps and SMEs.

A Eurogroup meeting is scheduled for 7 April 2020 to roll out a strong, inclusive stimulus package of Europe-wide solutions.