YEREVAN (Armenpress, RFE/RL) — As part of its global response to the coronavirus outbreak, the European Commission stands by Eastern Partner countries and has reallocated €140 million for the most immediate needs including for Armenia. In addition, the Commission will also redirect the use of existing instruments worth up to €700 million across the region to help mitigate socio-economic impact of the coronavirus crisis, the EU Delegation to Armenia told Armenpress.
Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Olivér Várhelyi said: “These are very difficult times not only for the EU, but for our partner countries, such as Armenia, as well. We have to do what we can to mitigate the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on human lives and livelihoods. Today’s package responds both to the immediate needs of the health systems, as well as a longer term needs to the most vulnerable groups in society and small and medium-sized enterprises, which are the backbone of the economies in the six countries.”
Support to the Armenian health system: At the request of the partner countries, including Armenia, the commission will respond to immediate needs by supporting the supply of medical devices and personal equipment, such as ventilators, laboratory kits, masks, goggles, gowns, and safety suits. The European Commission is working with the World Health Organization (WHO), and is deploying €30 million to ensure these necessary supplies are jointly purchased and effectively distributed to the health systems of the six countries in the coming weeks. In addition, the funds will support national health administrations to train medical and laboratory staff and carry out awareness raising measures to the wider population.
The EU has made available more than €11.3 million in small grants to civil society organizations across the region. These funds are already responding to immediate needs, such as supporting local schools with distance learning. In Armenia, a project with the Red Cross will be launched in the coming days to support the elderly, vulnerable families, and people with disabilities.
The EU is working closely with International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and relevant financing institutions from EU Member States as TEAM EUROPE providing a coordinated European response for the real economy, including small and medium enterprises (SMEs), in particular through launching of a new regional support program of €100 million to help SMEs, including self-employed and others to easily access credit and boost their businesses after the crisis. This will be complemented by a new support program targeting Armenian SMEs worth €13 million
The EU is also exploring to mobilize over €30 million from existing programs in coordination with the Armenian government.