Written by Vasilis Margaras,
The coronavirus pandemic is severely impacting the European population and the economy. Consequently the social and economic impact of the crisis is being felt in all EU regions. Although it is still too early to make concrete predictions about the long-term economic impact, the risks of increased disparities and the unravelling of previous years’ progress are real. Furthermore; the consequences of the Covid‑19 pandemic could well further impede the social, economic and territorial cohesion of the EU, by exacerbating existing divisions between EU regions.
The European Commission has put forward a number of proposals to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on EU territories. The European Parliament has been generally supportive of the Commission’s proposals, triggering urgent procedures to approve them swiftly so that EU citizens could benefit immediately. Actions under various EU funds and policy instruments are now geared towards health-related purposes and the rekindling of the economy. In these critical times, cohesion policy is increasingly drawn upon to provide emergency relief and liquidity support to affected small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and companies. Amendments to the regulation governing the European structural and investment (ESI) funds were approved by Parliament to allow flexible use of the funds in addressing the challenges posed by the crisis. A number of additional regulations and policy instruments meanwhile complement the ESI funds in the fight against the pandemic’s negative consequences.
Local and regional authorities are at the forefront of the pandemic, as they are often responsible for providing much of the emergency response. They can use the adopted EU measures to reinforce their coronavirus action and to support their economic sectors.
This briefing is an update of an earlier edition, published in May 2020.
Read the complete briefing on ‘Exceptional coronavirus support measures of benefit to EU regions‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.