Zovko asks EU Commission for increased support for the Western Balkans against the coronavirus
Split/Brussels 8 April 2020,
Together with other colleagues, vice coordinator for foreign affairs, Zeljana Zovko wrote a letter to the Commission to urge for increased European assistance for the Western Balkans in the fight against the coronavirus. The letter is addressed to Josep Borrell, Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, Olivér Várhelyi, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement and Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Trade.
The authors emphasize the gravity of the situation and calls for rapid action, based on solidarity with our closest neighbours. A comprehensive approach towards our Western Balkan partners is in the EU’s own interest of containing this health emergency. The letter also reiterates the author’s full support to the Commission’s ongoing efforts to address the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis in the EU and beyond. The Commission allocated already €38 million support to cover immediate needs of public health systems and the made €374 million available under IPA II to support socio-economic recovery in the Western Balkans. Thanks to the activation of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism stranded citizens are helped and medical equipment can be provided.
However, the Western Balkans face other challenges and are undertaking difficult EU-related reforms. Therefore, Zovko and the other members ask the Commission to increase the efforts even more and to prepare a contingency plan for the ongoing programmes. As rapporteur of IPA III, Zovko also stressed the need to adequately address the fallout from the coronavirus during the next financing period and to better the visibility of the EU action on the ground and improve the countering of disinformation.