The European Commission received its first preliminary application for financial support from the EU Solidarity Fund from Italy to address the coronavirus outbreak and its effects. Italy is expected to submit further details in the weeks to come.
Since 1 April 2020, following the Commission’s proposal for a Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, EU Member States can apply for support from the EU Solidarity Fund for health emergency reasons.
Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said: “Italy is currently the Member State that is hardest-hit by the coronavirus crisis, and is the first country to apply for help from the EU Solidarity Fund in this context.
Thanks to its extended scope, now also including public health emergencies, the Fund is part of the tools the Commission has rapidly put in place to alleviate the burden on Member States’ budgets, as a concrete demonstration of European solidarity in these difficult times.”
The European Commission will collect all coronavirus-related applications until 24 June 2020 and then assess them in a package in order to ensure an equitable treatment of all cases. It will then submit a proposal for financial aid to the European Parliament and the Council.
The Commission will deal with all applications in one single package, not on a first come first served basis. This ensures that the available resources are being distributed in a fair and equitable manner among all Member States that are hardest-hit by this health emergency.
As part of the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, on 13 March the Commission proposed the extension of the EU Solidarity Fund’s scope, so that the Fund could not only provide financial support following natural disasters, but also in case of major health emergencies. This proposal was approved in record-time by the European Parliament and the Council, and entered into force on 1 April 2020.
For 2020, the Fund has €800 million at its disposal to provide financial aid to the EU countries worst affected by this crisis. The financial support aims at alleviating the financial burden of the immediate response measures, such as provision of medical assistance and purchase of medical equipment, support to vulnerable groups, measures to contain the spreading of the disease, strengthening preparedness, and more.