Coronavirus response: Commission proposal on use of EU Solidarity Fund does not go far enough

On 25 March, the EESC adopted a generally favourable position on the European Commission's proposal to amend the Council Regulation on the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

While the EESC's position paper fully supports the proposed extension of the EUSF's scope, it considers the resources allocated to the financial instrument to be wholly insufficient and its financial provisions to be inadequate.

EESC president Luca Jahier said: "There is no other alternative but to extend the scope of the EU Solidarity Fund to include major public health emergencies and to define specific operations that are eligible for funding to tackle the pandemic crisis. The amount of resources allocated must, however, be commensurate with the scale of the emergency to be considered effective."

With regard to the eligibility criteria for funding, the EESC proposes lowering the threshold so that countries can protect their citizens from the risk of being affected.

Although the EESC welcomes the increase in advance payments and the Commission's intention to increase the total level of appropriations for Fund advances, it expresses some reservations concerning these provisions.

"Taking into account the scale of the emergency we face, the proposed level of advance payments will not be enough and the proposed total level of appropriations for advances seems completely inadequate", said Stefano Palmieri, rapporteur-general for the EESC's contribution.

More needs to be done so that the response to a public health emergency is rapid and the financial resources to assist countries are mobilised as quickly as possible, says the EESC.

Finally, Member States should consult relevant civil society organisations when preparing applications for the EUSF. (jk)