The EU does not have competence in the health area, but has nevertheless been accused of failing to respond adequately to the crisis. Internal criticism has often ignored EU measures such as repatriation of, so far, more than 12 000 EU citizens abroad (including from Wuhan), support for research on vaccines, diagnostics and treatment of COVID-19, the most flexible State aid rules ever introduced to save jobs and companies, ensuring supply of medical equipment in joint procurement, amongst other actions. In addition, severely ill patients from France and Italy have received treatment in Germany. Several EU countries (including Austria, France and Germany), have sent facemasks to Italy. France and Germany alone have donated more masks to Italy than China.
Since February 2020, the EU has launched a string of wide-reaching measures to alleviate the crisis, including in its neighbourhood.