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Joint Communication by the Commission and the High Representative on a global response to fight the pandemic

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Communication on the Global EU response to COVID-19

I. Introduction

The coronavirus outbreak has evolved into a global pandemic. It has killed tens of thousands of people, straining communities, increasing calls for social protection, shrinking business activity and disrupting supply chains. Its consequences will be profound. Having appeared first in China, the pandemic has now spread in Europe and around the globe, with a spill over on social stability and security.

As the virus does not discriminate between people and knows no borders, this historic crisis requires a fast, massive and coordinated global response to protect all people, save lives and tackle the economic fallout. Now is the time for international solidarity and leadership, not isolation; to reach out more internationally, not less; to provide transparency and facts, and counter disinformation. The European Union (EU), as the world’s largest donor and a leading economic power, is already at the forefront of this effort. The Union has already taken a series of concrete and quick actions to support our partners.

The EU is doing all it takes to combat the coronavirus crisis in Europe. It is also in the EU’s interest to show solidarity with the rest of the world. A strong and global European response is a matter of upholding our core values, and equally of pursuing our strategic interests. The wellbeing of our partners across the globe matters to every European. We can only fully take care of our own health and safety if we also support others. Our battle to defeat the virus internally can only be successful if we defeat the virus globally. Europe’s strong partnerships around the world are thus even more relevant in tackling this pandemic and its consequences.

This geopolitical Commission stands ready to spearhead this work.

The EU supports international cooperation and multilateral solutions in this crisis. We are taking a leadership role in the coordination efforts undertaken by the United Nations, the G20, the G7, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the international financial institutions. The EU will put its full weight behind the UN Secretary General’s efforts to coordinate UN-wide response.

The EU’s response follows a Team Europe approach. It draws contributions from all EU institutions and combines the resources mobilised by EU Member States and financial institutions, in particular the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Working together, Team Europe can muster a critical mass that few others can match.

In line with the approach agreed at the G20 and promoted by the UN, the EU’s response addresses the humanitarian, health, social and economic consequences of the crisis. It addresses short-term emergency needs as well as the longer-term structural impacts on societies and economies, thus reducing the risk of destabilisation. It reinforces both governmental and non-governmental actions.

The EU’s response will continue to adapt to an evolving situation. Just as we provided material support to China at the outbreak of the pandemic, we will now focus on the most affected countries in need of health support, such as countries in Africa, the Neighbourhood, the Western Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa, parts of Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. The focus will be on the most vulnerable people, including migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons and their host communities. This is also a demonstration of tackling challenges together with Africa1 . All those who need healthcare and protection should be on our radar.

Beyond financial support and other cooperation, the EU will use its entire trade and investment toolbox and transport system to ensure the continuous flow of goods and avoid long-term disruptions of supplies, in particular for critical medical products and foodstuffs.

The EU will continue to promote and uphold good governance, human rights, the rule of law, gender equality and non-discrimination, decent work conditions, as well as fundamental values and humanitarian principles. The special and extraordinary measures required to contain the pandemic must not lead to backtracking on the fundamental values and principles of our open and democratic societies. In addition, our collective coronavirus response should avoid policy and investment decisions that exacerbate existing crises such as biodiversity loss and climate emergencies.
Finally, the EU’s action will be fact-based and transparent, fighting any attempts of disinformation inside and outside the EU. It will be accompanied by coordinated communication campaigns to inform about our engagement and our cooperation with partners in a time of crisis. The EU will also continue its engagement with global online platforms to facilitate access to authoritative health information, such as from the World Health Organization (WHO).

To reach these objectives, the EU will secure financial support to partner countries for a total of more than EUR 15.6 billion.

These funds are existing external action resources. Together with our partners, we are making sure that the substantial EU funding already allocated to them is targeted to help them deal with the impact of COVID-19, similarly to what we are doing within Europe. This will allow EU action to be fast, adapted and operational.
Our global response to COVID-19 will integrate the strategic objectives the EU has set itself as regards the environment and climate, as set out in the European Green Deal, and the Digital Agenda, which remain fully valid. Ongoing work on these objectives will in fact reinforce the efforts to address the short and long-term challenges linked to the pandemic.

The current crisis is a reminder that the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement remain crucial to help better equip the world for future systemic shocks.