COVID-19 EU response


For a short time now we have been living in a different world. A world where the Coronavirus has created a health crisis with a major social and economic impact. In this special issue, we would like to provide you with information from the European level that has taken measures to limit the consequences.

The effects of Coronavirus will weigh heavily in the coming months. The care sector, with doctors and nurses in the front line, is facing very heavy efforts. But not only them: everyone responsible for providing services to citizens is also under heavy pressure. This includes the municipal services that provide the essential services needed to serve the local community. We are not only thinking of the security services, but also of the social services, which are confronted with the consequences of the economic crisis on the daily life of the citizen. We would therefore like to thank all those who bear responsibility at the local level, especially the local chief executives, who are in charge during these difficult weeks.

Here is an an explanation of measures by the President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen:

Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative

General objective: To use all the means at our disposal to fight against the coronavirus and its economic spin-offs;

Cohesion policy funds available and unused: bringing forward expenditure and redirecting the ERDF, ESF, Cohesion Fund and EGF (Fisheries Fund) towards the fight against coronavirus;

  • The immediate provision of cash is what matters now to save lives and support viable businesses ;
  • Adapt the eligibility rules to ensure a high and relevant impact;
  • Flexible application of rules - commit funds in the coming weeks to deal with paperwork later;
  • Administrative support to Member States;

How will it work?

The EU will direct €37 billion to this in the coming weeks: 

  • About €8 billion of liquidity to be made available immediately to Member States for their national contributions under cohesion policy projects.  This is coming from the pre-financing advance that Member States receive as part of the normal Structural Investment Fund advances.  This proposal waives the requirement in 2020 to reimburse the unused pre-finacing back to Brussels and instead use it immediately on a wider range of eligible actions immediately under new schemes or existing projects;
  • What is pre-financing?  Usually, the EC uses this accounting approach with all 28 Member States each of the Structural Investments Funds are provided as a cash advance to the Member States. If the recipient Member State does not incur eligible expenditures under its various programmes and projects due to reduced claims or ineligible activities there is normally an obligation on that Member State to return the pre-financing advance to the EU institution or body.
  • If this initial 8 billion is fully used, this will be generate an addition €29 billion of draw down from the EU budget money from the European Structural and Investment Funds; no fresh Member State money will be needed for the €37 billion support. 

Three Priorities – a much wider scope of eligibility 

  • Priority 1 - Corona-relevant health expenditure in any part of the Member States including hospital equipment, breathing ventilators and masks;
  • Priority 2 - Support to SMEs working capital
  • Priority 3 - Short-term employment schemes

Administrative timeline 

  • Next 2 weeks: EP and Council are invited to agree within 2 weeks as full suite of change do require changes to regulations;
  • Allow Member States to contract immediately including necessary advice, including on state aid issues => Member States should start contracting immediately
  • Leadership across European Commission: Vice-President Vestager, Commissioners Ferreira, Schmit, Gentiloni, Hahn (chair) and their services;
  • Similar arrangement at Director-General level across the European Commission;
  • 16th March - Member States asked to nominate senior contact points by Monday close of play
  • 18th March First call at senior civil servant level on Wednesday
  • Commissioners reaching out to capitals next week

Advice to UDITE members 

  • Priorities 2 and 3 (Socio-economic measures) have potential impacts on your existing EU under ERDF, INTERREG, ESF, EMFF and provide you with the scope to negotiate a wider range of eligible activities that help you support your communities from an urgent socio economic perspective;
  • Do not be surprised is regional government offices have not received this top down advice yet as Government is hampered logistically;
  • You have an opportunity to suggest to your Manager Authorities or Secretariats on how you can make this work immediately in 2020 in your communities;
  • If your local authority is not directly running programmes, you should contact your regional authority or managing authority directly using the contacts you have;
  • All 28 Member States are included in this initiative, your role is to make sure that its benefits are brought down to your communities rapidly from Government Ministries and departments.
Category: Local Public Health Measures