Permanent representatives of the EU countries have agreed on two bills on the allocation of funds to combat the consequences of the outbreak of COVID-19, the press service of the Council of the EU said.
The so-called Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative will provide € 37 billion to Member States to deal with the effects of the crisis.
One of the laws amends the rules of structural and investment funds, while the other expands the scope of the EU Solidarity Fund.
The investment initiative will provide Member States with access to € 37 billion, which will be aimed at strengthening health systems, as well as supporting small and medium-sized enterprises.
Of the total amount, about 8 billion euros will be allocated from unspent pre-financing in 2019 within the framework of structural funds. The new measure will allow Member States to use these tools to combat the effects of the pandemic.
Another 29 billion euros will be paid ahead of schedule from the funds foreseen for payments this year, but a little later. Funds will be available in the near future to cover costs already incurred as a result of efforts to combat coronavirus.
Member states will also have greater flexibility in the allocation of funds – they themselves will be able to decide much more efficiently allocate resources.
EU Permanent Representatives also approved a legislative proposal to expand the scope of the EU Solidarity Fund to cover public health emergencies.
The fund was originally created to assist Member States and candidate countries in dealing with the effects of natural disasters.
The inclusion of public health emergencies in this fund will allow the European Union to meet the urgent needs of people during the coronavirus pandemic, the EU Council said.
Given the urgency of the situation, both laws were published in the Official Journal and entered into force on April 1, 2020.