29 October 2020
Category : Reportage
Faced with the global debacle caused by the pandemic, the European Union launches a forceful response that meets the emerging needs of partner countries and strengthens their institutions to cooperate and work hand in hand in the fight against COVID-19 and its consequences
Although it is not a war, many specialists already equate the consequences of the pandemic with those of a war. Putting debates about whether it is appropriate to use warlike language on hold, there is no doubt that the beginning of 2020 was something more than just the beginning of an ordinary year. A new decade had begun, one that will be marked by a global pandemic, the likes of which, in Spain, we were aware, due to the seriousness of the situation in our country in March. The outbreak of the pandemic will mark the 2020s just as great challenges have marked so many decades in the past. COVID-19 has meant that things have been upended, to a greater or lesser extent, in the lives of everyone and regarding the situation of each continent.
The case of Latin America is especially worrying. Coronavirus is a global threat which, although it does not distinguish between borders, has a differentiated impact due to the context of each region. Historical and structural challenges in Latin America have turned the continent into the global focus of the pandemic, which shows the need for solidarity and multilateralism to face this problem.
On 8 April, the European Commission adopted the European Union’s global response to COVID-19 to support its partner countries and leave no one behind in the fight against the pandemic, establishing the so-called Team Europe. It is an initiative based on the necessary joint work between the European institutions, the Member States and their implementing agencies, together with the development finance institutions. The political backup came from the Council of the European Union (EU) in its conclusions of 8 June.
Since last spring, the EU has mobilised around €36 billion, redirected in record time to meet the new needs created by the pandemic.
The activities carried out within the framework of Team Europe focus on the three priorities of the Commission. These are to provide an emergency response to the health crisis and humanitarian needs, to support the strengthening of research, health and water systems and, thirdly, to address the economic and social consequences.
These three priorities show that the European contribution to the global response to COVID19 does not only seek immediate solutions, but is focused on addressing the emerging needs of the recovery in the medium and long term. All this, with special attention on the achievement of the 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals, with this year marking the 5th anniversary since their adoption and the beginning of a decade of action, as indicated by the UN. Thus, the European Green Deal and the Digital Agenda provide the backbone of the EU’s response to ensure that the recovery is also green and digital, based on sustainable human development.
In this context, FIIAPP, as part of the Spanish and European cooperation effort, is also an institution that is part of Team Europe. Furthermore, as a member of the European Practitioners’ Network, the Foundation is actively participating in strategic dialogue with its European partners, and within the network, with the European Commission. An exercise focused on contributing to the reception of Team Europe, for example, through the mobilisation of knowledge from the public sector.
Through this approach, FIIAPP, together with Spanish state bodies, has accompanied partner countries in their response to the pandemic and its consequences. More than 96 activities have been carried out in Latin America, the European Neighbourhood and the Sahel, mostly aimed at supporting vulnerable people and health systems, reinforcing the rule of law and strengthening economic systems.
In the Eastern Neighbourhood, FIIAPP supports the Georgian authorities in the preparation of a document analysing the economic impact caused by the COVID19 crisis. In Morocco, FIIAPP has supported the analysis of the impact of the pandemic on the inclusion of migrants, and in Nigeria it has organised an exchange of experiences on the impact of COVID-19 on female victims of trafficking. In Macedonia, for example, FIIAPP has supported the postal service to improve the protection of its workers against the coronavirus. In Latin America and the Caribbean, support has been given to the fight against misinformation about the pandemic, the acquisition of health and campaign material for border posts; as well as fiscal policies against the coronavirus. FIIAPP has also supported countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in the promotion of a sustainable recovery after COVID-19 through the EUROCLIMA+ programme.
All this has taken place in a context marked by mobility restrictions that have created a race against time to adapt to the circumstances without stopping cooperation. In this sense, FIIAPP has rapidly adapted to online medium by launching tools such as ConnectFIIAPP. It has been able to continue its Twinning and TAIEX (Technical Assistance and Information Exchange) activities and make valuable contributions to the Team Europe approach. In addition, this digital advance will enable the complementing and enriching of the current offer of institutional support, as well as strength the resilience and adaptability of the Twinning and TAIEX instruments.
To help respond in a structured way to immediate needs in partner countries, and from the Team Europe perspective, FIIAPP, together with other organisations from the EU Member States, is supporting the international cooperation service of the European Commission in the identification and prioritisation of demands. The inter-institutional dialogue methodology of the current regional programmes of the EU in Latin America has been capitalised on for this exercise, which is called COVID Roundtables. In a joint and coordinated manner from the EU Delegations in the countries, work is being done to detect these needs. Working together with partner public administrations in order to articulate support the EU and its Member States will be able to offer them from their ongoing technical cooperation actions. In a first pilot exercise, three “COVID Roundtables” have been established in Argentina, Ecuador and Costa Rica, with FIIAPP being the main facilitator of the latter two.
The work has been intense, but there is still a long road ahead. FIIAPP faces the situation with the conviction that international cooperation is vital to ensure that no one is left behind in this decade marked by a global pandemic, which undoubtedly requires a global response to which FIIAPP is fully committed so that the recovery can be green, digital and inclusive.
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