Coronavirus: The European Union stands together with Georgia
For Georgia it will mean over €20million in new emergency allocations in addition to redirection of over €70million of ongoing programmes for crisis response and access to multiple regional funds.
This support is part of a larger Eastern Partnership support package announced in Brussels today, which includes €140 million in new allocations and up to €700 million redirected funds and guarantees for the six Eastern Partnership countries.
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 Georgia, 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”.
EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell said: “The European Union stands together with Georgia in these challenging times. Today we are pleased to announce a special EU solidarity package to assist Georgia in tackling and overcoming the Coronavirus challenges. For immediate response, Georgia will have access to a 30 million Euros regional emergency pool of medical equipment and devices such as masks, gowns, ventilators or laboratory kits as well as expertise. We are also activating funds so that civil society organisations in Georgia can provide the most vulnerable groups additional ways to cope with the crisis. And in the months ahead, the EU will be mobilising over 70 million Euros to help Georgian businesses get easier and more affordable access to Lari based credits and grants to boost and rebuild their companies after the crisis. This is in addition to another 20 million Euros of local targeted grants we plan to launch in the coming months around the country. With these measures we hope and trust to make a tangible contribution to the ongoing hard work of the Georgian government and population.”
The package will respond to Georgia’s immediate needs via:
Support to Georgia’s health system: The EU will provide €30 million to the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the purchase of medical devices and personal equipment, such as ventilators, laboratory kits, masks, goggles, gowns, and safety suits for the six Eastern Partnership countries. The exact allocation per country will be decided in the coming weeks based on country needs assessments conducted by WHO. In addition, support will be provided for training of medical and laboratory staff and awareness raising measures to the wider population.
In addition, we will provide micro-level assistance. A Georgian producer of medical textiles was already able to produce 40,000 medical gowns within a week after receiving equipment by the EU and Germany.
Support to the people who are most affected by the crisis, together with civic partners: The EU has made available more than €11.3 million in small grants to civil society organisations (CSOs) across the Eastern Partnership region. These funds are already responding to immediate needs through the regional “Rapid Response Mechanism”, by supporting e.g. local schools with distance learning.
By the summer, the Commission will launch the “Eastern Partnership Solidarity Programme”, which will target the most affected parts of the populations through civil society support and notably sub-grants to smaller, local organisations.
In addition, CSOs can already start applying for €4 million in grants for activities in crucial areas such as social entrepreneurship, social services and human rights (https://europa.eu/!VG39wY).
The package will aim to mitigate the socio-economic impact in Georgia via:
Support to Georgia’s economy, notably small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs): The EU is working closely with International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and relevant financing institutions from EU Member States to provide a coordinated European response for the real economy, in particular through:
- At least €70 million in grants to make it easier for Georgian businesses and those who are self-employed to easily access local currency credit lines and grants to boost and help recover their businesses after the crisis. Funds will be provided through financial partners, and become available throughout 2020;
- Close to €20 million in localised grant funding aimed at supporting local business, farmers and individuals to gain skills, and develop their businesses or recover from the crisis launched throughout 2020;
- On the micro level, EU projects are currently providing legal advice to small businesses that are relevant to fighting the pandemic.
- In addition, the EU has mobilised its European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD), which will rapidly provide financial support in key areas such as working capital, trade finance, or moratoria on debt service, through our IFI partners.
Moreover, the EU has ongoing macro-financial assistance with Georgia, where funds are available as soon as specific jointly agreed actions have been implemented.
The Commission also stands ready to provide assistance to Georgia through TAIEX, by using EU Member States expertise, experience and examples of good practice to assessing emergency preparedness response schemes and health systems.