The European Union’s solidarity fund will provide €385.5 million to twenty countries struggling to deal the health emergency caused by the coronavirus, the European Commission announced on Wednesday.
In a statement, the Commission revealed that 17 member states and three candidate countries had requested assistance from the European Union Solidarity Fund.
The countries requesting financial aid are Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Spain, and candidate states Albania, Montenegro and Serbia.
Financial aid may be used for medical assistance, the purchase and administration of vaccines, the purchase of personal protective equipment and medical devices, the cost of health care, laboratory tests, emergency support for the population and measures to prevent, monitor and control the spread of disease.
The Commission’s statement quotes Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Várhelyi of Hungary as saying that he had stood by the EU’s Western Balkans partners since the start of the pandemic and was committed to supporting the region in the fight against the coronavirus.
“Where possible, it will make the same assistance mechanisms available as to member states,” he said.
According to the Commission, Albania and Montenegro, among the candidate countries requesting assistance, have already received the financial assistance at the end of 2021, while a delegation agreement is being signed for Serbia. Payment of the grant is expected shortly thereafter, they added.
The support is made possible by the extension of the EU Solidarity Fund in March 2020 to major public health emergencies, precisely because of the pandemic.