30 / 03 / 2020
Following the informal video conference on 26 March 2020, the members of the European Council adopted a joint statement on the EU actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, setting political orientations to reduce its spread. In their joint statement, the members of the European Council called on the European Commission (EC) to prepare “a comprehensive recovery plan, integrating green transition and digital transformation”. The members of the European Council also underlined the need for promoting and supporting research and synergies within the European scientific and research community to maximise the full potential of research across the EU. Among others, the EC has mobilised €140 million for 17 research projects, in which many EARTO members are involved.
In this context, the EC published on 30 March a new factsheet on the EU response on the COVID-19. In brief, the EC is now mobilising the EU budget and the European Investment Bank (EIB) to support SMEs hit by the “corona-crisis”. On the one hand, the EIB aims at creating an additional €20 billion of investment in SMEs and on the other hand the EC will make available €1 billion in an EU budget guarantee to the European Investment Fund (EIF), so it can provide liquidity to SMEs, mobilising €8 billion in all to help at least 100,000 companies.
In parallel, on the same date the European Council adopted two legislative acts to release funding from the EU budget. The first act amends the rules of the structural and investment funds, while the second extends the scope of the EU Solidarity Fund. The EC Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative of €37 billion, which consists of unused cohesion policy funds, includes about €8 billion of unspent EU cohesion money that Member States can keep instead of reimbursing to the EU and €29 billion of co-financing from the EU budget. The scope of the EU Solidarity Fund is amended to include public health emergencies, aiming at helping Member States to meet people’s needs during the coronavirus pandemic. These two legislative acts will enter into force on 1 April 2020.