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, the EC announced on its website.
Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi said that Europe was facing an unprecedented public health crisis, but that even in those difficult times it would always be there for its 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 – Varhelyi said.
At the request of the partners, the Commission is responding 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 EU will assist Albania and North Macedonia to cover the immediate needs of their public health systems with up to EUR 4 million each, Bosnia and Herzegovina with EUR 7 million, meanwhile 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.
The Commission is also including the Western Balkans in EU initiatives to tackle the coronavirus crisis like the joint procurement schemes of protective personal equipment
To help mitigate the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus, the EU will also redirect funds from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) to help the recovery in the Western Balkan partners in the short and medium term.
This will include support to the private sector, increasing social protection, with a specific attention to the vulnerable groups, and strengthening resilience in the public health sector.
For this purpose, the Commission will mobilize up to EUR 46.7 million to support the social and economic recovery of Albania, EUR 73.5 million for Bosnia and Herzegovina, EUR 50 million for Montenegro, whilst North Macedonia will benefit from EUR 62 million, Serbia from EUR 78.4 million and Kosovo will receive up to EUR 63 million.