European response to the coronavirus crisis

The coronavirus outbreak is testing Europe in ways that would have been unthinkable only a few months ago. To cushion the impact on people’s livelihoods and economy, the European Commission has adopted a comprehensive economic response.

The coronavirus outbreak has been, first and foremost a public health emergency, as well as a major shock to the European and global economy. Member States have already taken or are taking budgetary policy measures in support of liquidity to increase the capacity of their health systems and to assist citizens and sectors particularly affected.

The extent and magnitude of the crisis requires an unprecedented response in terms of scale, speed and solidarity. There is a pressing need for support at health, economic, social, employment and other levels. This has been the motivation behind the European Commission’s comprehensive response package, which includes, among a range of cooperation and health support measures, the creation of a team of experts from across Europe to ensure that Member States have the best available knowledge.

Source: European Commission (04/04/2020).
Source: European Commission (04/04/2020).

The Commission has also intervened to make the EU budget more easily available, to make the EU’s budgetary rules as flexible as possible and to activate the general safeguard clause of the Stability and Growth Pact for the first time in history. Together with the measures taken by the European Central Bank, this EU response gives Member States an unprecedented budgetary and financial capacity to help those who need it most.

On 2nd April, the Community body launched a new initiative called SURE (Temporary Support Instrument to Mitigate the Risks of Unemployment in an Emergency) to help preserve jobs and support families. It also proposed to redirect all available structural funds towards the response to the coronavirus, extending the Temporary Framework adopted on 19th March 2020 to allow Member States to accelerate research, testing and production of coronavirus-related products, in order to protect jobs and further support the economy in the context of this outbreak. The framework provides support for construction and upscaling of testing facilities, in addition to other economic activities.

European support for the construction and upscaling of testing facilities

Member States can grant aid in the form of direct grants, tax advantages, repayable advances and no-loss guarantees to support investments enabling the construction or upscaling of infrastructures needed to develop and test products useful to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, up to first industrial deployment.

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