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.
In 2020, as far as the Southern Neighbourhood region is concerned, Team Europe:
- provided targeted assistance to vulnerable migrants and refugees in North Africa through the EU Trust Fund Africa's regional emergency response programme.
- funded specific coronavirus actions on health, water and sanitation in Jordan and Lebanon through the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis.
- enhanced technical and financial support to the Health Ministry in Morocco for the reform of the health sector and extended the coverage of health services for the population. In Tunisia, the “Essaha Aziza” programme has been beefed up to cover all public health hospitals.
- strengthened regional finance facilities to support SMEs and to provide immediate liquidity, more local currency funding and trade finance in the Southern Neighbourhood to respond to the economic challenges of the crisis.
- worked closely with the Palestinian Authority to respond to the economic challenges and the broader social impact of the crisis by supporting incomes and providing assistance to the poorest households, and to create an enabling environment for the development of the private sector, including by funding a business advice programme in Palestine, run by the EBRD.