Coronavirus: EU global response to fight COVID-19
On April 8, the European Commission set out the European Union (EU)’s plan to support its partner countries' efforts in tackling the coronavirus pandemic. This plan will focus on the immediate health crisis and resulting humanitarian needs, strengthening partner countries capacities and preparedness, as well as mitigating the socio-economic impact of the pandemic.
This support “package” aimed at partner countries was drafted by the European Commission and greenlighted by the EU member state development ministers in the EU Council. Light for the World, via the International Disability and Development Consortium, advocated in advance of that meeting, notably calling on the Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, to ensure the EU response is inclusive of people with disabilities.
After the meeting, the Council communicated that “the package will help the most vulnerable countries in particular in Africa, the EU’s neighbourhood, but also Asia and the Pacific, as well as Latin America and the Caribbean. It will focus on the people most at risk, including children, women, the elderly, and disabled people, as well as migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons and their host communities.”
The EU's response follows a ‘Team Europe' approach combining resources from the EU, its Member States and financial institutions.
To back this plan, the EU will secure financial support amounting to more than €15.6 billion from existing external action resources, €3.25 billion of which will be channeled to Africa.
However, the EU remains mainly guided by its own ‘strategic interests’. While the Communication does include references to most marginalised groups, as highlighted by CONCORD (the European confederation of Relief and Development NGOs) in their own reaction to the EU’s global response, “[i]t fails to say that the EU will systematically prioritise these people in its response and the kinds of measures it will adopt to reach them. The Communication does not, therefore, live up to the ‘leave no one behind’ principle of the 2030 Agenda.”
We will of course keep monitoring the implementation of this EU global response with regard to disability inclusion.
It is to be noted that in accordance with the commitment of the EU to multilateralism, all these actions will take place in partnership with the United Nations, International Financial Institutions, as well as the G7 and the G20.
“Persons with disabilities are especially vulnerable in a pandemic, be it because of e.g. underlying health conditions, reliance on close-quarters personal assistance, or inaccessible information. The EU and its member states must ensure their development cooperation response to this global health crisis supports partner countries to be inclusive of persons with disabilities in their own fight against COVID-19. “
-François Carbonez, EU Policy Officer
Light for the World