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2020: EU’s action against coronavirus

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission has been working on all fronts to contain the spread of the virus. Unprecedented measures have been taken at both national and EU level to support health systems and counter the socio-economic impact of the pandemic.

Securing safe and effective vaccines for Europe and the world

The development and distribution of an effective and safe vaccine against the coronavirus represents a lasting solution to the pandemic and is a cornerstone of the Commission’s coronavirus response.

What the Commission worked on (since February 2021)

put in place a European Vaccine Strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing and deployment of vaccines against COVID-19

authorised 6 contracts, for 2.3 billion doses of future vaccines, and is in talks with 2 potential developers for 260 million additional doses

granted 3 conditional marketing authorisations, to BioNtech and Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca

27 December 2020

Vaccination against COVID-19 started across the EU in a moment of unity

Other key actions taken:

  • The Commission has mobilised more than €660 million under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme since January 2020 to develop vaccines, new treatments, diagnostic tests and medical systems to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and save lives.
  • The Coronavirus Global Response pledging marathon raised funds for universal access to coronavirus treatments, tests and vaccines. It started in May and culminated in a Global Pledging Summit and concert in June 2020. €16 billion of pledges were collected from donors worldwide.
  • Together with the EU Member States, by February 2021, Team Europe  allocated more than €850 million to COVAX, which makes the European Union COVAX's biggest donor. This will enable fair and equitable access to vaccines, regardless of income, for millions of people across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, the Pacific, and in Europe's eastern and southern neighbourhood. 

Supporting Europe’s economy on the path to recovery

The European Commission has proposed a major recovery plan for Europe that will

  • help repair the economic and social damage caused by the pandemic
  • kick-start the European recovery
  • protect and create jobs

The recovery package of €1.8 trillion combines the EU budget for 2021-27 and NextGenerationEU.


Measures adopted by the Commission (since 2020)

mobilising the EU budget and the European Investment Bank to save people's jobs and to support companies hit by the crisis

launching SURE, that can provide up to €100 billion in loans to Member States for the preservation of employment

temporary state aid rules so governments can provide liquidity to the economy to support citizens and save jobs

1440 measures

were adopted, including 650 state aid decisions

Other key actions the Commission has taken in 2020:

  • triggered the ‘escape clause’ that allows maximum flexibility in our budgetary rules
  • screening of foreign direct investment. The Commission has issued guidelines to help Member States protect critical European assets and technology in the current crisis
  • tabled the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative to provide Member States with immediate liquidity
  • allocated over €10 billion to small and medium enterprises, to help them remain active during the pandemic, and €3 billion to workers and vulnerable groups

Protecting public health

On 11 November 2020, the Commission laid the foundations of a European Health Union, in which all EU countries prepare for and respond together to health crises. This would ensure that medical supplies are affordable and available, and countries work together to improve disease prevention and treatment. 

Measures taken during the pandemic

helped Member States to join forces to maximise purchasing power and secure necessary medical supplies, as quickly as possible

invested in top quality research, bringing Europe’s leading scientists together

established a panel of 7 independent epidemiologists and virologists to give guidance to Member States on response measures

The Commission also issued:

  • recommendations on community measures, such as physical distancing
  • guidelines to optimise the supply and availability of medicines
  • guidelines on testing methodologies, to support the efficient use of testing kits by Member States

Protecting mobility of EU citizens

Some internal border controls have had to be reintroduced during the pandemic. The Commission has worked with Member States to

  • limit the impact on the internal market
  • protect citizens' health
  • ensure the fair treatment of people whose travel is necessary
  • make sure essential goods keep moving across the EU

What the Commission accomplished

brought home more than 90,000 Europeans who were stranded around the world, thanks to the EU civil protection mechanism

issued guidelines on 'green lanes' to Member States to ensure the speedy and uninterrupted flow of goods across the EU

launched ‘Re-open EU’, a web platform with essential information about health and travel measures across the EU

Further actions include:

  • setting out a common framework providing criteria for safely and gradually restoring tourism activities
  • Member States agreeing on guidelines to ensure cross-border interoperability between tracing apps so that citizens can be warned of a potential infection also when they travel in the EU
  • proposing more clarity and predictability of any measures restricting free movement