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Emergency Support Instrument


The Emergency Support Instrument helps Member States respond to the coronavirus pandemic by addressing needs in a strategic and coordinated manner at European level.

The Emergency Support Instrument is based on the principle of solidarity and pools efforts and resources to quickly address shared strategic needs. The instrument helps mitigate the immediate consequences of the pandemic and anticipate the needs related to the recovery.

All the latest information on the actions financed by the Emergency Support Instrument and their implementation will be published on this page.


A significant part of the budget available under the European Support Instrument is used to secure safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19 in the EU through Advance Purchase Agreements with vaccine producers. This is part of the European Commission’s vaccine strategy.



The European Commission’s Emergency Support Instrument financed two contracts with the pharmaceutical company Gilead to secure treatment doses of Veklury, the brand name for the therapeutic drug Remdesivir, for a total of €70 million. Veklury was the first medicine authorised at the EU level to treat COVID-19. With the support of the Emergency Support Instrument, the treatment of approximately 37 000 patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms was ensured. The 200 000 vials of Veklury were made available to Member States and the UK in several instalments between August and October 2020.

Plasmapheresis equipment

On 11 January 2021, the Commission announced the selected 24 projects that will build new programmes, or expand existing ones, to collect plasma from donors recovered from COVID-19 and to build preparedness for the rapid collection in the event of future peaks or waves of the pandemic. The projects, which will take place in 14 Member States and the UK, are national or regional and will, in most cases, involve distribution of funds down to large numbers of local blood or plasma collection centres (over 150 in total).

Clinical trials for repurposed medicines

On 13 November 2020, the Commission awarded a grant of €1 million, financed under the Emergency Support Instrument, to support the conduct of a clinical trial for repurposing Raloxifene, an existing medicine used to prevent and treat osteoporosis, identified through the Horizon 2020 Exscalate4CoV supercomputing platform as a promising molecule to treat patients suffering from COVID-19. The aim of the trial, which will involve 450 participants, is to assess the efficacy and safety of Raloxifene and its capability to prevent the replication of the COVID-19 virus in cells and to reduce the mean time of viral shedding in COVID-19 patients who do not show yet severe symptoms.


Rapid antigen tests

Testing is a decisive tool to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. The European Commission mobilised €100 million under the Emergency Support Instrument to directly purchase over 20 million rapid antigen tests that will delivered to 24 Member States from February 2021.

Strengthening testing capacity in Member States

On 18 November, the European Commission has signed an agreement with the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) mobilizing € 35.5 million under the Emergency Support Instrument to scale up COVID-19 testing capacity in the EU. The funding is supporting training of staff for sampling collection and analysis and performance of tests, especially via mobile equipment. The funding is enabling Red Cross Mobile Testing Teams to have access to the necessary equipment, lab items and reagents to take samples and perform tests, and support national authorities in their work.

Emergency Support Instrument

Transport of essential goods, medical teams and patients

During the COVID-19 ESI activation from April 2020 to January 2022, the Emergency Support Instrument Mobility Package also provided support for:

The transport of medical items to where they were most needed, by financing the cargo transport of assistance and relief items to and between EU Member States.

The transfer of patients between EU Member States or from Member States to third countries. This allowed use of spare capacity and relieved health services at risk of being overwhelmed. It also ensured treatment for as many patients as possible.

The transport of medical personnel and mobile medical teams between EU Member States and into the EU from third countries, to help people wherever medical assistance was needed most.


This additional funding opportunity came on top of support already available via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, such as the deliveries of protective equipment through rescEU.

During the COVID-19 ESI activation from April 2020 to January 2022, the Commission allocated more than €164 million for cargo shipments, as well as €9 million for the transport of medical teams and transfer of patients.

Overall, this assistance supported more than 2000 operations via air, land and sea, to transport life-saving personal protective equipment, and medical equipment to Europe as well as 515 health workers and transfer of 135 patients.

Essential health related products

The Commission has made nearly €100 million available for the procurement of essential health-related products, such as personal protective equipment and medicines for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, as well as services to facilitate the quality and use of such products.

Personal protective equipment: the Commission has purchased 10 million masks to protect healthcare workers. These masks were delivered to 19 Member States between July and September 2020

Treatments: the essential health related products facility has also been used to funded the purchase of treatment doses of Veklury, the brand name for the therapeutic Remdesivir (see above). Veklury was the first medicine authorised at the EU level to treat COVID-19.

UV Robots for disinfection of hospitals across Europe

The Commission has made available €12 million from the Emergency Support Instrument to purchase 200 UV disinfection robots. The robots can disinfect standard patient rooms using ultraviolet light in as quickly as 15 minutes, and represent an important asset that can help hospitals reducing the risk of infection and containing the spread of coronavirus. The distribution started on 26 February 2021, with some 30 robots delivered to 12 Member States. On 21 September 2021, the Commission delivered the 200th disinfection robot (to Consorci Corporació Sanitària Parc Taulí hospital in Barcelona, Spain). In addition to these 200 robots, the Commission secured the purchase an additional 100, bringing the total donations to 300.

Training of healthcare professionals in intensive care skills

The European Commission made €2.5 million available under the Emergency Support Instrument for the training of a multidisciplinary pool of healthcare professionals to support and assist Intensive Care Units. The programme ran for 8 months and trained 17,000 doctors and nurses in 700 hospitals across the EU. It provided intensive care medical skills to healthcare professionals who do not regularly work in Intensive Care Units. This helped increase the availability of staff that could be deployed at a time when there was need for a rapid, temporary and significant scale-up in Intensive Care Unit capacity. The training material will be shared with interested third countries to prepare for a fast scale-up of intensive care unit staff in case of future waves of COVID-19 or other health-related crises.

EU Digital COVID Certificate

The EU Digital COVID Certificate Regulation entered into application on 1 July 2021. Already on 17 March 2021, the European Commission presented a proposal to create an EU Digital COVID Certificate to facilitate the safe free movement of citizens within the EU during the pandemic.

Additionally, on 27 September 2021 the Commission awarded grants to 20 Member States totalling €95 million to purchase COVID-19 diagnostic tests to facilitate the delivery of the EU Digital COVID Certificate. This accompanies the ongoing vaccinations against COVID-19. The initiative is part of the Commission's commitment to support affordable access to fast and accurate testing for those citizens who have not yet been fully vaccinated, in particular those who cannot get vaccinated due to medical reasons.

The Commission’s first report on how the EU Digital COVID Certificate is being implemented across the EU.

Ensuring interoperability

The Commission mobilised some €16 million under the Emergency Support Instrument to establish the necessary infrastructure for the issuance and verification of interoperable certificates on vaccination against COVID-19, testing and recovery.

Building on the experience gained from the establishment of the digital infrastructure known as the “European Federation Gateway Service” for the cross-border exchange of data between national contact tracing and warning mobile applications, the Commission developed the EU gateway, the secure digital infrastructure connecting the national systems ensuring trusted verification of interoperable certificates across the EU. After a successful pilot phase, the EU gateway went live on 1 June 2021. This allows the Certificates to be verified across borders.

Furthermore, the Commission made additional funds available under the Emergency Support Instrument to provide technical and financial support up to €1 million per EU country for the on-boarding onto the EU Gateway.

EU Digital COVID Certificate

Linking national contact tracing apps

In the fight against coronavirus, most Member States have launched a national contact tracing and warning app, or plan to do so. Some €10 million have been made available under the Emergency Support Instrument to link up these national apps to release the potential of mobile proximity contact tracing and warning apps to break the chain of coronavirus infections and save lives, even when people are crossing borders.

The interoperability gateway service will provide a European solution to ensure a safe exchange of information between national apps based on a decentralised architecture and a high level of data protection. After a successful pilot phase, the system went live on 19 October.

To date, 17 national apps, downloaded 67 million times, are linked through this service. More countries will soon follow.

In total, €3 million have been reserved under the Emergency Support Instrument to support Member States in adapting their national apps and backend servers in order to join the interoperability gateway service. So far, 13 Member States have benefitted from this support.

Mobile contact tracing apps in EU Member States

Useful links


2 APRIL 2020
COVID 19- Economic package – activation of emergency support
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2 APRIL 2020
COVID-19 - Economic package - DAB 2/2020 - Emergency Support Instrument (ESI)
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2 APRIL 2020
COVID-19 - Economic package - mobilisation of the Contingency Margin - reactivation of the ESI
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