The FINANCIAL -- Today, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi and the Prime Minister of Georgia signed two financing agreements to tackle the crisis caused by COVID-19 outbreak. The two agreements are part of the EU's response to COVID-19 under the “Team Europe” initiative and have been signed in the context of the official visit by Prime Minister Gakharia in Brussels. The EU has been helping Georgia throughout the pandemic to recover from the impact of coronavirus.
European Union Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi and the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Gakharia, signed two agreements worth €129 million today in Brussels to assist Georgia in coping with the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on the country's economy, agenda.ge reported.
“The European Union is standing by Georgia in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to do everything we can to alleviate the effects of the pandemic on the lives of the people and businesses,” Commissioner Várhelyi stated.
The EU support mobilised for Georgia since the beginning of the crisis includes a variety of actions designed to help Georgian citizens cope with and recover from the impact of the pandemic. Support measures include medical supplies, social support to vulnerable groups, loans and grants to businesses and farmers throughout the country, and direct financial support to the state budget.
The European Union and Georgia’s close relationship is based on the EU Georgia Association Agreement including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), which entered into force in July 2016 and strives for political association and economic integration. Through its firm support for Georgia’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, its political dialogue, cooperation and assistance programmes, the EU remains committed to supporting a strong, independent and prosperous Georgia. The EU remains the largest donor in Georgia, with over 160 projects active through the country.
The two financing agreements signed today as part of the EU's Covid-19 support package for Georgia, will reinforce support in key areas:
“COVID-19 Resilience Contract for Georgia”
Through a €75 million grant, the EU will support the country's Anti-Crisis Economic Plan, designed to help citizens of Georgia recover from the impact of the pandemic. Measures include social assistance for vulnerable households and support to businesses who have retained jobs in difficult times. It also foresees to increase the number of beds in intensive care units to prepare for a potential increase in infections.
“EU4 Integrated Territorial Development” programme
The EU will support this plan with €54 million in grants targeting the economic development of regions outside the capital. In order for all citizens of Georgia to benefit from economic development, the programme will focus on local authorities and concrete actions for citizens, such as rehabilitating or constructing infrastructure in urban zones, encouraging tourism development, and supporting small and medium sized companies and innovation. The programme also includes measures to support decentralisation and involving citizens in decision-making at local level.
It is noteworthy that earlier this month, 140 health workers from across Georgia – front-line responders to the pandemic – received specialized training to effectively respond to COVID-19 cases and at the same time, ensure own safety and prevent further transmission. Ambulance doctors, nurses and emergency vehicle drivers were trained on Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for preventing and controlling infection during the transportation of patients with confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases. Trainings were conducted by the Emergency Situation Coordination and Urgent Assistance Center, within the framework of Solidarity for Health Initiative, implemented by WHO and funded by the EU.