One year ago today, the European Commission and the High Representative set out plans for a targeted EU response to support partner countries’ efforts in tackling the Coronavirus pandemic combining resources from the EU, its Member States and European financial institutions, as ‘Team Europe’. By 1 January 2021, Team Europe had already supported partner countries around the world with more than €26 billion, 65% of the overall response package that now stands at over €40 billion and exceeding the original €20 billion pledged.
Team Europe is also working to ensure global, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and supporting the rollout of vaccination campaigns, while exploring possibilities for boosting local manufacturing capacity. The EU played a leading role in setting up the COVAX Facility, the global initiative that allows for high-income countries to fund vaccines for low and middle-income countries and where Team Europe is one of its leading donors, with over €2.2 billion.
When it comes to Western Balkan countries, Team Europe provided more than 11.3 million pieces of protective equipment and medical equipment such as ventilators, ICU beds, patient triage containers, ambulances and 30,000 smaller medical devices in the Western Balkans. Emergency support also provided more than 80,000 COVID tests, material to calibrate another 580,000 tests and 25,000 litres of disinfectant.
It has supported the Western Balkans and Eastern Neighborhood, in collaboration with the WHO, to help to prepare for the reception and administration of COVID-19 vaccines and to improve the resilience against health emergencies.
The EU provided through Team Europa a lifeline to businesses in the Western Balkans by involving up to 70 local banks in the region in providing easier access to credit for the private sector. Through the EIB, the EU is also providing substantial funds for additional loans for public sector investments and further credit to enterprises, to help safeguard jobs for the many people working in SMEs in the region.
Beside this region, EU supported over 130 countries around the world focusing help on emergency response and immediate humanitarian needs, strengthening health, water, sanitation and nutrition systems and mitigating the social and economic consequences of the pandemic.
Building on the success of the Team Europe approach, the EU and its Member States have agreed to step it up by jointly designing, funding and implementing Team Europe Initiatives. In the next programming cycle, these will be transformational projects for our partner countries and will focus on major priority areas of the EU in line with partner countries’ needs.
Members of the College said:
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, commented: “The virus has shaken the entire world. As Team Europe, we are working tirelessly with our partners across the globe to cushion the impact of the pandemic and set a path towards a sustainable recovery. We also need to start work now to ensure we are better prepared to address together future health crisis. This is why the European Commission and the Italian Presidency of the G20 will convene the Global Health Summit on 21 May.”
High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell, stated: “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that an effective response to a global crisis requires a multilateral approach. Team Europe is a good example of how multilateralism should deliver to the benefit of all, leaving no one behind in the joint endeavour to overcome the pandemic.”
Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “I am proud to see that Team Europe does not only further increase its commitments towards our partner countries in the COVID-19 response, but is also steadily delivering on its promises with concrete results, having delivered nearly two thirds of its announced support measures. Team Europe is mobilising €8 billion for actions in Africa and close to €4 billion have been already delivered in Sub-Saharan Africa. . We will only bring this pandemic to an end and recover from it together.”
Enlargement and Neighbourhood Commissioner, Olivér Várhelyi, added, “Team Europe has shown that we are stronger together. The EU as a whole has delivered first and foremost to its immediate neighbours. Around €12 billion were disbursed in support for our Western Balkan partners and neighbours to the East and South to help them address the health emergency, strengthen the resilience of their health care systems, maintain employment and social protection and provide support for the economic recovery.”
Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “The Team Europe approach has already proved its solid value in our joint fight against COVID-19 by deploying the European humanitarian and civil protection capacities – from the repatriation of stranded EU citizens to Humanitarian Air Bridges that provided life-saving support when commercial flights were grounded due to the pandemic. We are determined to continue using all tools in our future initiatives, such as the EU Humanitarian Emergency Response Capacity.”
The ‘Team Europe’ package was launched on 8 April 2020 to support EU partner countries in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences. The financial support initially pledged was for around €20 billion and combined resources from the EU, its Member States, and financial institutions, in particular the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.