BRUSSELS — The European Commission says it has reallocated more than 140 million euros ($154 million) to help Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine in their fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement on March 30, the commission said it would also “redirect the use of existing instruments” worth up to 700 million euros ($772 million) to help the six countries of the EU’s Eastern Partnership program mitigate the socioeconomic impact of the crisis.
“These are very difficult times not only for the EU, but for our partner countries as well,” Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi said.
Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi said: “These are very difficult times not only for the EU, but for our partner countries as well. We are doing all we can to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on human lives and livelihoods. We are responding both to the immediate needs of the health systems, as well as longer term needs to the most vulnerable groups in society and small and medium-sized enterprises, which are the backbone of the economies in the six countries.”
The commission said it would support the supply of medical devices and personal protective equipment, such as ventilators, laboratory kits, masks, and goggles worth 30 million euros ($33 million) to the health systems of the six countries in the coming weeks.
The Commission has also made available more than €11.3 million in small grants to civil society organisations. These funds are already responding to immediate needs, through the ongoing regional “Rapid Response Mechanism”, such as supporting local schools with distance learning. By the summer, and as part of this package, the Commission will launch the “Eastern Partnership Solidarity Programme” which will target the most affected parts of the populations through civil society support and notably sub-grants to smaller, local organisations.
The funds would also be used to support the training of medical and laboratory staff, as well as awareness-raising measures to the populations.
The redirected funds worth 700 million euros will be used mainly to provide liquidity in the six countries, including through “working capital, trade finance, or moratoria on debt service,” and to help smlal and medium-sized enterprises access credit and boost their businesses after the crisis.