Immediate release of funds to tackle COVID-19

The Council adopted legislative act to rapidly react to the surrounding pandemic amending the rules of the structural and investment funds. According to the regulation concerning the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, there are several mechanisms that will enter into force on 1 April.

The Member States will get access to €37 billion of cohesion money to strengthen healthcare systems, as well as support small and medium-sized enterprises, short-term working schemes, and community-based services under the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative. They will also have more flexibility in operational programme implementation and a simplified procedure not requiring a Commission decision for changes to the programmes and to redirect resources to other programmes.

To address the public health crisis, the European Regional Development Fund should support the financing of working capital in small and medium-sized entreprises where necessary as a temporary measure to provide an effective response to the crisis. The ERDF should cover investment in products and services necessary for fostering crisis response capacities in health services within its investment priority focused on research and innovation.

Instead of returning the unused money to the EU budget, about €8 billion will be available under structural funds pre-financing from 2019 in order to tackle the pandemic and its impact. €29 billion will be disbursed early from allocations which would have been due later this year.

The text of the regulation is available here.