9 April 2021, 14:20
The Council today approved additional funding from the EU budget, amounting to €121.5 million, to address urgent needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
These funds will support the following actions:
- preparatory work for digital green certificates to facilitate free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic
- strengthening the capacity of member states to detect and monitor new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (‘sequencing’)
- the development, evaluation and adjustment of new reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays for each new emerging variant of the COVID-19 virus before the tests are rolled out, while ensuring sufficient testing capacity in the member states
- monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants in wastewaters
- further development of the exchange platform for passenger locator forms to increase the number of participating member states
The funds will be drawn from the Solidarity and Emergency Aid Reserve, which is intended to help member states and third countries in emergency situations. They will be channelled through the Emergency Support Instrument and the EU contribution to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The European Parliament is expected to discuss this support next week, aiming for approval in plenary at the end of April.
In total, the Commission has proposed €245.2 million of additional funding from the EU budget to support the initiatives outlined above, as well as €100 million for further emerging needs related to COVID-19. Besides the mobilisation of the Solidarity and Emergency Aid Reserve, this expenditure would be covered by redeployments in the 2021 budget (around €7.5 million) and amending budget no 2 to the 2021 EU budget (€216.2 million). The draft amending budget still needs to be adopted by the Council and the Parliament.