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EU mobilises immediate support for Western Balkans to tackle Covid-19

The European Commission has announced up to EUR 38 million in immediate support for the Western Balkans to tackle the health emergency caused by coronavirus and reallocation of EUR 374 million to help the socio-economic recovery of the region, MIA reports from Brussels. 

Brussels, 30 March 2020 (MIA) – The European Commission has announced up to EUR 38 million in immediate support for the Western Balkans to tackle the health emergency caused by coronavirus and reallocation of EUR 374 million to help the socio-economic recovery of the region, MIA reports from Brussels. 

Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi made the announcement.

“Europe is facing an unprecedented public health crisis, but even in these difficult times we will always be there for our Western Balkan partners, who belong in the EU. We will help our partners to cover their immediate needs for their health systems, as well as promote longer term measures to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus crisis and support small and medium sized enterprises in the region,” Várhelyi said. 

The European Commission notes that at the request of the countries in the region, it will respond to immediate needs by supporting the supply of medical devices and protective equipment. 

According to the Commission, the EU will assist Albania and North Macedonia with up to EUR 4 million each, Bosnia and Herzegovina with EUR 7 million, Montenegro will receive up to EUR 3 million, Kosovo up to EUR 5 million and up to EUR 15 million will go to Serbia, the most affected country until now. 

Brussels will also include the countries in the region in EU initiatives like the joint procurement schemes of protective personal equipment and has accelerated the implementation of a project with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). This project, which has been initially envisaged for 2021, is to enhance capacities to survey and control communicable diseases, improve health emergency preparedness capabilities, and support the development of public health microbiology laboratory systems.

The EU will also redirect funds from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), of which North Macedonia will benefit from EUR 62 million, to help mitigate the economic impact of the crisis, increase social protection, support the private sector and strengthen the resilience in the public health sector. 

The Commission will mobilise up to EUR 78.4 million for Serbia, EUR 46.7 million for Albania, EUR 73.5 million for Bosnia and Herzegovina, EUR 50 million for Montenegro, and EUR 63 million for Kosovo. 

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