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European Commission has put forward Next Generation EU for a major recovery plan to fight COVID-19 and ensure recovery. During these times of crisis, the EU and its member states are working together to combat the pandemic. At the same time EU help Europeans to get back on its feet after the economic downturn.

Next Generation EU

To ensure the recovery is sustainable, even, inclusive and fair for all Member States, the European Commission is proposing to create a new recovery instrument, Next Generation EU. This is the power, modern plan for Recovery, with a long-term EU budget.

TOP 10 EU plan to fight COVID-19

The 10 pillars of Next Generation EU are 10 concrete things to fight COVID-19 and ensure recovery.

1. Supporting the EU’s Recovery

To help the EU recover from the economic and social impact of the pandemic, EU leaders agreed on an extraordinary €750 billion recovery fund called ‘Next Generation EU’. The recovery package will give priority to investment in the digital and green transitions. In addition, the July European Council agreed on a long-term EU budget for 2021-2027, which will boost growth and support citizens, businesses and our economies in the years to come. All in all, the multiannual budget and the recovery fund amount to no less than €1 824 billion.

In addition, the EU has also put forward a €540 billion support package for workers, businesses and member states. The European Central Bank is providing an additional €1 350 billion as part of its bond-buying programme to help governments during the crisis.

2. Coordinating travel measures

Common Colour Codes for mapping risk areas

EU countries established a common framework for travel measures to safeguard freedom of movement in the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. They agreed on common criteria to take into account when considering measures and a common definition of red, yellow and green zones. A colour-coded map of the EU based on data provided from member states is published every Thursday by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The map helps EU countries take decisions based on the epidemiological situation region by region.

EU countries should allow travel to/from a green area without restrictions. If travelling from orange or red areas, restrictions such as quarantine or testing prior to or after arrival may apply. EU countries have agreed information about new travel measures should be published 24 hours before they apply.

To help travellers plan their trips while staying safe and find reliable and up-to-date information on travel measures, the EU launched the Re-open EU website, which is available in all 24 EU languages.

3. Slowing the spread of the virus

To help limit the transmission of the virus in Europe and beyond, EU countries temporarily restricted non-essential travel to the EU. As the epidemiological situation EU improved, countries agreed to start gradually lifting travel restrictions for the residents of some third countries from 1 July 2020 onwards.

The travel list is reviewed regularly and can be updated whenever necessary. The criteria for determining the third countries for which travel restrictions should be lifted include the epidemiological situation and the containment measures, including physical distancing, as well as economic and social considerations.

4. Pushing for a COVID-19 vaccine

The EU and its member states are working together on the development of a safe vaccine against COVID-19. Normally a vaccine takes many years to be produced, but the EU is aiming to produce one within 12-18 months by accelerating the development, manufacture, and distribution of safe vaccines for Europe. To this end, the EU is coordinating a joint effort to secure the production of a sufficient quantity of vaccines in the EU through advance purchase agreements with vaccine producers. The EU has signed three agreements so far and the talks are underway to secure more.

Margaritis Schinas and Stella Kyriakides Vaccines strategy

Together with member states and the World Health Organisation, the EU is coordinating a global effort towards universal access to a vaccine. The EU will only be safe if the rest of the world is safe.

5. Supporting EU health systems

The EU has ensured crisis management and coordination throughout the COVID-19 pandemic through constant contact between member states and EU institutions. The EU has also made medical equipment available by creating a common European stockpile of personal protective equipment under RescEU. It has also coordinated joint public procurements and regulated exports of key equipment to ensure a constant supply within the EU.

To help Europe cope with future public health threats, the EU has proposed a new, reinforced EU4Health programme, which will improve support to member states’ healthcare systems. EU4Health aims to make a significant contribution to post-COVID-19 recovery, with the focus on making health systems more resilient and on promoting innovation in the health sector.

Next Generation EU

6. Protecting jobs

To help workers keep their jobs during the crisis, the EU has established an instrument providing temporary support in order to mitigate unemployment risks in an emergency (SURE). The scheme provides up to €100 billion in loans granted to member states on favourable terms to help cover the costs of national short-time work schemes.

7. Helping EU countries fund their COVID-19 response

The EU is supporting member states in funding their crisis response through the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, channeling around €37 billion from EU structural funds to EU countries.

European Union is also applying the full flexibility of the EU’s fiscal rules to help EU countries support healthcare systems and businesses in order to keep people in employment during the crisis. The EU state aid rules have been relaxed so that governments can provide liquidity to the economy to support citizens and companies, and in that way save jobs.

8. Boosting European solidarity

The EU is facilitating the sending of medical teams through the EU Medical Corps so that teams from different member states can come to support the health-care systems hardest hit by the crisis.

In a spirit of solidarity, member states have come to each other’s aid. For example: Austria, Germany and Luxembourg have made their intensive care units available to Dutch, French and Italian patients in critical condition. Poland and Romania and Germany have sent teams of doctors to help treat patients in hospitals in Italy. Denmark is sending ventilators and field hospital equipment to Italy.

The EU also approved new rules allowing member states to request financial assistance from the EU Solidarity Fund to cover health emergencies. With the newly broadened scope of the fund, up to €800 million will be made available for member states this year to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

9. Supporting the agriculture and fisheries sectors

To protect our food supply chain and avoid food shortages, the EU approved emergency measures to support the agriculture and fisheries sector affected by the pandemic. Measures include direct support to farmers and fishers and increased flexibility in EU funding.

Agriculture - solar powered weeding machine in the fields, with wind turbines in the background

In addition, the EU established ‘green lanes’ to allow the flow of food across Europe and recognised seasonal workers as ‘critical workers’. Exceptional market measures were also introduced to support EU wine, fruit and vegetable producers.

10. A partnership to support our partners around the globe

The COVID-19 crisis is a global challenge that requires global solutions. The EU and its member states are supporting partner countries’ efforts to fight the virus by providing financial support to address the immediate health crisis and the humanitarian needs. The EU has also activated an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge to deliver humanitarian assistance to countries in need.

This is the TOP 10 EU plan to fight COVID-19 and ensure Recovery.

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