This article is about COVID-19.
COVID-19 is the disease that is caused by the coronavirus.
This text also explains what the EU is doing to combat the coronavirus.

  • So that as few people as possible become sick.
  • So that everyone can receive medical care.
  • So that the consequences for the economy remain minimal.

What is the European Union doing to combat COVID-19?

The 27 countries in the EU are called EU member states.
All these countries have a Head of State.
Or a Head of Government.
The heads of these countries speak to each other regularly.
They have spoken to each other even more often since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A pandemic is when a virus spreads all over the world.
The heads of the EU member states have used video conferences since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
This means they can still hold meetings.
They talked about the impact of COVID-19 on all countries.
They also talked about how to handle the COVID-19 crisis.

Their top priority was to slow down the spread of the virus.
It was only after this that they talked about the impact on the economy.
They realised that this would cause a lot of problems for the EU.

All the heads of the EU member states had a face-to-face meeting on 17 July 2020.
This was the first in-person meeting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting was held in Brussels.
It lasted until 21 July 2020.
The EU agreed to create a recovery fund.

This means that
the EU will help businesses by giving them lots of money.
The exact amount is: 750 thousand million euro.
The economies in EU countries have weakened because of the COVID-19 crisis.

The EU has made a recovery plan to help.
The recovery plan will help to make the economy stronger again.
There will be a vote on this recovery plan.
The European Parliament and the national parliaments in each member state will vote.

A parliament is a group of people.
These people are chosen to represent the citizens of a country.
A parliament is allowed to make important decisions.
It votes on things before making a final decision.
The parliaments in each EU country will vote on the recovery plan.
The recovery plan will then start on 1 January 2021.

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What is the job of the European Commission during the crisis?

What is the job of the European Commission during the crisis?
The European Commission is doing a lot of important work during the COVID-19 crisis.
The European Commission is made up of people.
These people have to make a lot of important decisions about the EU.
They have to stand up for the interests of the EU.
They also have to reach agreements with other countries.
But one thing is important to know.

The European Commission cannot make many decisions about health matters.
Each member state makes its own decisions about health matters for its citizens.
But the European Commission now has a special responsibility.
It must help all the EU member states to manage COVID-19.
And the European Commission must give advice that helps everyone to work together well. This is called joint action.
It has worked well so far.

The European Commission has made some helpful plans for EU member states to follow.
The plans for joint action were especially successful in the following areas:

  • public health
  • transport
  • protecting borders

A border is an invisible line that separates two countries.

  • the Single Market

The Single Market allows free movement of people, goods, services and money between EU countries.
EU citizens can work in any EU country.

  • Joint action

EU member states work together in a joint action to fight COVID-19.
The European Commission also helps with medical supplies.
Protective clothing for doctors is an example of a medical supply.
The European Commission also has a good plan for relaxing the COVID-19 rules.
This is very useful.
Because it means that the EU states can work together.

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What is the EU doing about travel and transport?

Limiting the spread of the virus:
The pandemic was slightly better in the EU for a time.
Fewer people were infected with COVID-19 during the summer.
So the European Commission made some recommendations to all EU member states.
It recommended opening national borders again.
This meant that everyone in the EU member states was allowed to travel again within
the EU.

The recommendation for removing travel restrictions was announced on 15 June 2020.
The European Commission has had a special website since then.
The name of the website is:


This website gives lots of information about travelling in the EU.
The information covers the following subjects:

  • border controls
  • transport
  • travel restrictions
  • measures that help protect public health and safety

One example is the face mask rule.
Another is the rule about keeping a minimum distance from other people.

  • More useful advice for individual EU member states

The aim is to stop the spread of COVID-19.
So the European Commission made some recommendations to all EU member states.
People from non-EU countries should not be allowed entry.
This is called a travel ban.

Non-EU countries are countries that are not EU member states.
The EU member states decide together which these non-EU countries are.
The EU increased the length of this travel ban several times.
The travel ban for people from non-EU countries was removed on 30 June 2020.
But it was only removed slowly.

Visa policy:
The European Commission has also made recommendations for a joint visa policy.
A visa is a permit to enter or stay in another country.
A visa policy is the rules for deciding how long people are allowed to stay in a country.
EU member states can ban people with a visa from doing something.
They can ban them from entering countries in the Schengen Area.

What is the Schengen Area?:
This is the area where you can travel across borders without showing your passport.

There are 26 countries in the Schengen Area now.
The countries want a travel ban because:
They want to protect people’s health.
They want to stop people from getting ill with COVID-19.
The travel ban is part of the Schengen Borders Code.
The Schengen Borders Code means:
A group of rules for national borders.
All the countries in the Schengen area follow these rules.

What happens to EU citizens who are stuck in non-EU countries and cannot leave
The European Council made a decision in March 2020.
The European Council is made up of politicians.
They make the important decisions for the EU.
The European Council has promised to work on plans for the EU delegations in countries outside the EU and in the EU representations.

EU“representations”are groups of people.
They represent the EU in the EU member states.
EU “delegations” are different groups of people.
They also represent the EU but in countries that are not EU member states.
They form part of the EU security strategy.
A security strategy means a plan to protect people.

The EU member states have looked after many people since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
Especially people who could not leave non-EU countries to travel home.
This was because the borders were closed.
For example, some people were on holiday in non-EU countries.
The EU member states have helped lots of people return to Europe.

The EU Disaster Relief Programme also helped here.
The EU Disaster Relief Programme is an agreement between EU member states.
If there is a disaster, the EU will pay most of the costs for flights that are needed.
This means that one country does not have to pay everything on its own.
It also means that one country alone does not have to organise all the flights.
The EU helps.

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European Commission: Travel advice and border measures

What is the EU doing for health care?

The European Commission is helping to protect the health of everyone in the EU during the COVID-19 crisis.
It supports the health care systems of all EU member states.
Health care systems include:

  • doctors
  • hospitals
  • medicines
  • preventive health care
  • health insurance companies

Health care systems cover almost anything to do with health and disease.
The EU has spent a lot of money on providing medical equipment.
It wants all EU member states to have enough supplies.
Examples of medical equipment are:

  • protective clothing

This includes face masks and protective gloves

  • vaccines

If scientists succeed in developing a vaccine.

  • ventilators. Ventilators are machines that help patients to breathe.
  • medicines
  • other medical devices

Supply of vaccines
The European Commission has a vaccine plan.
The European Commission proposed the vaccine plan in June 2020.
The aim is to develop a vaccine soon.
But the vaccine must be safe.
It must also be effective.

The vaccine must be available to all citizens in the EU member states.
The European Commission is trying to make agreements so this can happen.
This includes making agreements with companies that make vaccines.
If one vaccine manufacturer has a vaccine ready, then the European Commission can order the vaccine for all EU member states.
The EU is working together with partners all over the world.
Everybody has the same goal:
to fight COVID-19.
To do this, they urgently need:

  • medical treatments
  • tests
  • vaccines

Every person in the world should be able to get these things.
A project for this began on 4 May 2020.
The project is a worldwide donor initiative.
A donor initiative is
when people make a gift of money to help other people.
The donor initiative collected almost 16 thousand million euro.

Supply of medical products
The EU has an idea that will make it easier for countries to get medical equipment.
They have suggested creating a stock of medical equipment.
The stock is meant to be an emergency supply.

The name of the emergency supply is rescEU.
The large letters E and U at the end of the word stand for the EU.
One aim of rescUE is to buy ventilators
and protective face masks.

Some countries need medical equipment very urgently.
rescEU will help them get this equipment.
The EU has made 380 million euro available.
The EU has started an initiative.
An initiative is a project where people join together to help.
They work together to turn an idea into action.
The EU’s initiative is called “Solidarity for Health”.
The EU has provided 6 million euro for the initiative.
This money helps the health care systems in EU member states.

The money is for emergency aid.
It is intended to help with the transport of medical equipment.
It is also to help transport patients.
And to help recruit more doctors.

It is also intended to help build mobile hospitals.
The EU rules for public procurement are very helpful.
They are especially useful in emergencies.
Public procurement means
buying things or services that are important for a country.
Examples are:
medical products
or constructing new buildings.
The rules for public procurement make it possible to:

  • buy medical products in a couple of hours or
  • place orders for services quickly

The European Commission has reached an agreement with the pharmaceutical company Gilead.
Pharmaceutical companies make medicines.
The pharmaceutical company Gilead makes a medicine called Veklury.

Veklury is the brand name for the Remdesivir medicine.
Remdesivir helps people who are ill with COVID-19.
Remdesivir is the first approved medicine for treating COVID-19.
The EU has tested the medicine.
It has now approved it.
Remdesivir has been supplied to EU member states since August 2020.

It is also supplied to the United Kingdom.
The EU has an agreement with the pharmaceuticals manufacturer Gilead.
The agreement allows Gilead to supply Remdesivir to the EU.
The European Commission has also made a new rule about medical products from countries outside the EU.
No customs duty will be charged on medical products for a certain amount of time.

Customs duty is
the money paid for checking goods before they are allowed into a country.
Value-added tax is also not charged on medical products.
Charging value-added tax means
that people must pay part of their profit to the government when they sell things.
These new rules help medical products to be supplied quickly.
A fast supply helps:

  • doctors
  • nurses
  • patients

It also helps everyone financially.
It means that everyone will pay less money for important medical products.

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European Commission: Overview of crisis management and solidarity
EU vaccines strategy

How does the EU support research?

The European Commission is doing things to help the field of medicine.
It is spending money.
to support new developments in medicine.
It is giving special support in the following areas:

  • vaccine development
  • new methods of treatment
  • diagnostic tests
  • medical systems to fight COVID-19

Advances in medicine aim to help everyone affected by COVID-19.

It is important that scientists talk to each other.
They need to share their knowledge.
Scientists also need to talk to other scientists in different countries.
The European Commission has made some important decisions about this.
It wants to make it easier for scientists to share their knowledge.

Financial help:
The European Commission has created a financial support programme.
The support programme is called Horizon 2020.
A financial support programme provides money for specific projects.
These include:
helping scientists do more research into COVID-19
finding new ideas on how to treat COVID-19

For example, effective medicines
or vaccines.
The EU is giving 1 thousand million euro to support the Horizon 2020 financial support programme.
The 1 thousand million euro is divided up into 3 separate ‘pots’.
One pot has 450 million euro for developing:

  • medical treatments
  • tests
  • vaccines against COVID-19

The second pot has 400 million for guaranteeing loans.
Guaranteeing a loan means
helping someone to borrow money.
The guarantor promises to repay the money or debt, if the other person cannot pay.
The 400 million euro are the security.

The money will be lent to the European Investment Bank.
The European Investment Bank is called the EIB for short.
The loans are important because they make sure there is enough money for:

  • research into COVID-19
  • developments relating to COVID-19
  • making medical products to help fight COVID-19

The third pot with the last 150 million euro is to pay for disruptive innovations for COVID-19.
A disruptive innovation is:
a new invention that is totally different to an old invention.
It may be better than the old one.
Or it may replace an old invention that nobody wants any more.

The EU has a funding programme to encourage disruptive innovation.
The funding programme is called the “European Innovation Council’s Accelerator”.
A funding programme provides money which supports research.
Research will help to create more disruptive innovations.

EU information platform for COVID-19:
There is a platform with lots of information about COVID-19.
This platform is like a website.
It has information from EU databases.

The information stored in these databases is very useful for scientists.
Scientists can enter results, or data, from research into COVID-19 on the platform.
It is then available to all the scientists in the EU.
It is very important that scientists share new information about COVID-19.
It helps them all with their research.
They can learn more about the virus.

The EU has a commission to help fight COVID-19.
The information platform is also part of this commission.
It is part of the “ERAvsCorona” Action Plan.
This action plan includes ideas for fighting COVID-19.
The goal of the action plan is to make sure:

  • there is effective planning
  • people work together
  • people share information
  • people are willing to provide the money

The action plan will support all of this.
This will help all EU member states to combat COVID-19 together.

A team of experts
The European Commission has created a team of experts on COVID-19.
Experts are specialists.
Experts know a lot about a specific subject.
The team of experts includes epidemiologists
and virologists.

Epidemiologists know a lot about diseases that spread fast.
Virologists know a lot about things that cause diseases.
The team of experts has specialists from several EU member states.
The job of the team of experts is to work out a plan for risk management.

Risk management means:
planning how to protect people from the threat of COVID-19.
The experts need to think about making rules about what people are allowed to do.
And about what they are not allowed to do.

Risk management must be based on science.
This means that all decisions must be based on reasons that can be checked to see if
they are correct.
For example, risk management is needed when there is a study that checks how
effective a rule is.
The rule about keeping a minimum distance from other people is an example.
Studies prove that keeping a minimum distance from other people is effective.
Keeping a minimum distance prevents you from getting COVID-19.

A team of experts
The EU has a centre for preventing and controlling disease.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control focuses on the health of all
the people living in the EU.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control does a lot of research into

The EU team of experts also does a lot of research into disease.
The research results are important.
The European Commission uses them as a basis for its decisions.
The European Commission published recommendations on these subjects on 19 March

  • joint measures for all EU member states
  • test strategies. Strategies are plans with goals for the future.

The European Commission also made other recommendations on 30 March 2020. These recommendations were about making health care systems resilient.

Resilient means here that health care systems are able
to adjust to the difficult conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For example, non-essential surgery is cancelled.
Doctors and nurses then have more time to care for patients with COVID-19.
It also means that important medical equipment is available.

One example is ventilators.
The team of experts include the following specialists from Germany:

  • Lothar Wieler
    He is the President of the Robert Koch Institute.
  • Christian Drosten
    He is Head of the Institute of Virology at the Berliner Charité hospital.

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What is the EU doing for the economy?

The German government speaks to the European Commission very often.
The other EU member states also join in these talks.
They talk about the economy.
They also talk about measures to help the economy.

Recovery plan for the economy:
First there was a phase for fighting COVID-19.
Then there was a recovery phase.
A recovery fund was needed for this phase.
The amount of money in the recovery fund is 750 thousand million euro.

A recovery fund is
money that is given for a good cause.
The good cause in this case is the recovery of the EU economy.
Because the economies in EU countries have grown weaker because of the COVID-19 crisis.
The European Council held a special meeting. They decided on the recovery fund in this meeting.
The reason for the Special European Council meeting was the COVID-19 crisis.
And the impact the crisis has on the economy in EU member states.

The recovery fund was agreed in meetings between 17 July and 21 July 2020.
The fund is called “Next Generation EU”.
390 million euro are planned for supporting the EU member states.
The remaining 360 million are available as credit for member states that have been especially badly affected.

One thing was made very clear at the Special European Council Meeting.
Every EU member state needs to obey its laws.
Every member state needs to protect the EU’s finances.
The parliaments in the EU member states must vote on the recovery fund.
Then the recovery fund can start on 1 January 2021.

Solidarity package:
The EU finance ministers decided on a package of measures on 9 April 2020.
The package of measures is worth 500 million euro.

Package of measures means providing
support to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the economy.
The package of measures covers 3 main areas.
The heads of all the EU member states approved these areas on 23 April 2020.

1. Support from the European Investment Bank for businesses
Support is for small and medium-sized businesses.
The financial support is to pay for future projects.
The financial support is also to help pay for major projects.

2. Help for employees
The aim is to make short-time work possible for employees all over the EU.
This is why funding for short-time work is very important in the whole of the EU.
Short-time work means working fewer hours or not working at all.
This can be because employees are not allowed to work because of the COVID-19 crisis.
They will still get paid more than half of their salary or wages.
If this did not happen, they might lose their jobs.
Or they might not have enough money to live on.

The option for short-time work is called
Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in Emergency.
This is shortened to SURE.

3. Help for EU member states that urgently need financial support
The European Stability Mechanism is there to help in this case.
The European Stability Mechanism provides financial support for EU member states in an

Emergency measures:
The European Commission has planned many emergency measures.
Emergency measures are there to help people in the EU.
They also help support the economies of EU member states.

There is a lot of financial help for the regions of the EU.
Financial help is given to some regions so they can remain financially healthy.
Financially healthy means they can pay the money that they owe.

The financial help is called the Corona Response Investment Initiative.
37 thousand million euro are available under this initiative.
There is also a package of measures.
The package of measures is from the European Investment Bank.
These measures mean that up to 40 million euro in financial help can be paid.
The European Commission must follow the rules for giving out money.
But the European Commission is changing some rules.
This is to make it easier to help.
A lot of help is needed during the COVID-19 crisis.

Help is needed to fight the COVID-19 virus.
The European Commission has started the EU Solidarity Fund because of the COVID-19 crisis.
The EU Solidarity Fund is money that was given for a good cause.
The good cause is support for EU member states that have been badly affected by the COVID 19 crisis.

The financial help can be as much as 800 million euro.
Originally, the EU Solidarity Fund was created to provide help during natural disasters.
An earthquake is an example of a natural disaster.
But now the Solidarity Fund can be used in health emergences too.
COVID-19 is an example of a health emergency.
The European Commission has made another rule.
The rule helps EU member states.

It is for businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
Many businesses have lost a lot of money because of the crisis.
Some of them were not able to do their work.
The EU member states can help these businesses.
They can help by ordering payment of state subsidies from the EU.

Ordering state subsidies means that
a country makes laws to ensure financial support is given.
The European Commission’s rule helps EU member states to help businesses by:

  • giving subsidies
  • lending money
  • providing guarantees

The European Central Bank has also started an asset purchase programme.
The European Central Bank is called the ECB for short.
Asset purchase programme means that
the ECB buys bonds. A bond is a special type of loan for businesses.
This increases the price of these bonds.
It creates money in the banking system.

The asset purchasing programme is called the PEPP.
PEPP is short for Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme.
750 thousand million euro have been spent on the PEPP.
The asset purchasing programme is designed to make the banking system stronger.
The goal is to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the banking system.
If the banking system is affected, this will affect all the people in the EU.
So the PEPP asset purchasing programme is a very good way for the European Commission to help.

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