A total of €75 million will be made available from the EU budget to help member states repatriate EU nationals – while the budget for the EU medical equipment stockpile will also be increased – under European Commission proposals.
Commissioner Johannes Hahn, in charge of the EU budget, said the proposals illustrated “European solidarity and cooperation at its best.”
As a result of repatriation flights organised through the Union Civil Protection Mechanism and co-financed by the EU, a total of 2,312 people have been already repatriated to Europe from China, Japan, the U.S., Morocco, Tunisia, Georgia, the Philippines and Cabo Verde since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.
More than 80 further repatriation flights are planned in the coming days.
Under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, the EU contributes to the costs of repatriation flights that carry nationals of more than one Member State, “based on a principle of solidarity”, a European Commission statement said.
Regarding the funding for repatriation, commissioner for crisis management Janez Lenarčič, said: “The safe return of our citizens is a priority. We are doing all we can to ensure they are reunited with their families as soon as possible during these difficult times. I would like to thank Member States for their efforts during this process. Our Emergency Response Coordination Centre continues working 24/7 with Member States in order to meet their requests.”
The European Commission proposal will also increase the total budget of the first ever ‘rescEU’ stockpile of medical equipment (ventilators, protective masks and essential medical gear) to €80 million.
The European Commission is putting forward a draft amending budget – a proposal to reorganise part of the EU spending for the year in line with the latest priorities – to secure funding for a number of operations. They include draft amending budget also foresees:
- €350 million of migration management assistance to Greece, to add to the extra €350 million emergency assistance already being deployed, in line with the commitment of President von der Leyen during her visit to Greece;
- €3.6 million for the the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control to enhance the capacity to identify, assess and communicate threats to human health from communicable diseases, and in particular to increase the expert capacity in the light of the coronavirus crisis;
- €100 million to help Albania recover from the devastating earthquake on 26 November 2019, part of the €115 million Commission pledge and the total pledge of €1.15 billion;
- €3.3 million additional funding for the European Public Prosecutors' Office (EPPO) to boost its 2020 budget. The money will, for example, enable EPPO to recruit more quickly qualified staff and to buy IT equipment to start processing the first cases. Together with case-management support for EPPO mobilised already earlier this year, EPPO's total funding increase for 2020 is therefore at 48%.
The commission statement added: “The European Parliament and the Council are now invited to approve the budgetary changes as quickly as possible, to make sure the money can go where the needs are the most pressing.”