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EU provides EUR 22 m grant to Sri Lanka

Funds to be divided between health, agriculture, and tourism sectors

The European Union (EU) and its Member States will give Sri Lanka a EUR 22 million grant that will target health, agriculture and tourism, the bloc said in a statement today.

The EU said member countries were working with partners around the world to tackle the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate the effects of the crisis.

The EU’s response follows a ‘Team Europe’ approach, aimed at saving lives by providing quick and targeted support.

Noting that Sri Lanka’s very low number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far is impressive, the European Union said that to support Sri Lankan efforts further, it is targeting three sectors: health, agriculture, and tourism.

For health, the EU will be providing EUR 2 million for equipment and medical supplies to be procured by the World Health Organisation and to strengthen laboratory networks in the country. Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector will benefit from EUR 16.5 million funding.

“In these trying times, maintaining open trade and safeguarding the supply chains, especially agricultural and health supply chains, is essential to the well-being of the population,” the statement said.

This funding will take into account the impact of COVID-19 by mobilising more private capital in rural areas and by assisting small businesses and workers in the Uva and Central Provinces.

Finally, the European Union will support the Sri Lankan tourism industry with a EUR 3.5 million grant, in particular the smaller operators and their employees.

Some of the assistance will be provided immediately and the rest will be delivered later in the year and will continue thereafter.

This was discussed during a meeting between the EU Delegation, the Ambassadors of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania and Task Force Chair Basil Rajapaksa on 8 April, during which they also commended the Government of Sri Lanka for the close cooperation in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of its citizens and European tourists.

The Ambassadors of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania and the EU Delegation said: “We are impressed with the low number of cases in Sri Lanka so far. The European Union and its Member States are looking at the best way to support these efforts and have mobilised EUR 15.6 billion overall to tackle the consequences of COVID-19, and to improve preparedness further. It is only together that we can fight the spread of coronavirus and alleviate its human and economic consequences around the world.”

Friday, 10 April 2020

Baltic presidents discuss crisis mitigation, return to economic growth

VILNIUS – The presidents of the three Baltic countries on Wednesday discussed measures to mitigate the consequences of the crisis unleashed by the coronavirus and the strategy of return to sustainable growth.

"We will seek to make the Baltic region an example of success in returning to sustainable economic growth in the environment changed after the crisis. We’ve agreed to use both national and the European Union’s financial instruments and the political tools at our disposal so as to emerge even stronger after the crisis," Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said in a press release.

“We will focus on the EU's digital, internal markets, research and its strengthening," he said.

Nauseda on Wednesday held a conference call to discuss response measures to COVID-19 and their effectiveness with his Latvian and Estonian counterparts Egils Levits and Kersti Kaljulaid.

The Lithuanian president pointed out during the conversation that the spread of coronavirus in Lithuania was getting more stable. He noted in particular that the process of testing had been intensified since the end of March and the government had adopted an economic and financial action plan worth 5 percent of GDP.

The leaders of the three countries also discussed cooperation between the Baltic countries in ensuring smooth transit of goods as well as the necessity to strengthen fight against disinformation.

The points of discussion also included the process of implementation of strategic infrastructure projects, such as Rail Baltica, a gas interconnection between Lithuania and Poland as well as the synchronization of electricity grids with those of continental Europe.

According to the office of the president of Lithuania, the presidents of the Baltic countries also touched upon the safety and security issues relating to the Astravyets nuclear power plant in Belarus, emphasized the necessity to implement the recommendations of EU stress tests and to ensure compliance with other international environmental and nuclear safety requirements. In addition, they talked about refusal to purchase electricity from the Astravyets nuclear facility that is considered unsafe as well as from other unsafe power plants located in third countries.

A total of 2,674 coronavirus cases had been confirmed in the three Baltic countries by Wednesday noon, according to latest figures from official institutions collected by BNS. Deaths  related to the virus have hit 15 in Lithuania, two in Latvia and 24 in Estonia.

  • 2020-04-08

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