The Commission’s top priorities are safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our citizens and using all available tools to mitigate the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs plays an important role in this regard, within its remit. We are contributing to the Commission’s economic response to the outbreak, ensuring the exchange of essential protective equipment on the internal market, as well as helping affected industries mitigate the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.
- Third matchmaking event on vaccine production - 29 and 30 November 2021
- Second matchmaking event on vaccine production - 12 and 13 July 2021
- First EU matchmaking event on vaccine production - 29 March 2021
- Green Digital Passport proposal - 17 March 2021
- HERA incubator as part of bio-defence preparedness plan - 17 February 2021
Supporting affected industry sectors
The outbreak of COVID-19 has disrupted the normal operations of many EU industries and put some companies under severe financial pressure. The European Commission is working together with these industries and with national governments to help mitigate the economic consequences, applying targeted measures where necessary.
The EU tourism sector has been hit particularly hard by the outbreak of COVID-19. With the sector employing some 27 million people and generating over 10% of the EU’s GDP, it’s important to mitigate the negative economic consequences as much as possible.
The European Commission released new guidance on how to reboot Europe's tourism (PDF) while also supporting the tourism industry through liquidity support, fiscal measures, an easing of state aid rules, as well as new guidance on passenger rights and the application of the Package Travel Directive.
We launched the Re-open EU website and app to help Europeans plan their holidays and travel during this summer and beyond. Re-open EU provides practical, up to date information on the travel situation and health and safety measures in all EU countries in 24 languages.
Protective equipment and essential medical products
We are securing an adequate European stock of health and medical supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE). We aim to ensure that health care professionals and all others who need it have access to protective equipment such as masks, gloves and overalls, ventilators and other medical devices as well as pharmaceutical products.
Increasing production of protective equipment
We are in continuous contact with producers of protective equipment and urging other businesses to convert their existing facilities to produce protective equipment. The aim is to increase the production of face masks, gowns, coveralls, goggles and gloves. We are identifying available stocks, mapping EU manufacturing facilities and their capacities, and following the evolution of the supply and demand. At our urgent request, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) agreed to make several European standards for certain medical devices and personal protective equipment freely available.
Accelerating approvals of essential equipment and products
There is a drastic increase in demand for personal protective equipment, medical supplies, and other essential products on the EU market. At the same time, supply chains are compromised with shortages as a result.
Recognising the urgent needs, we are helping companies adapt their product lines and cutting legislative red tape. This way, businesses can increase production or convert facilities to manufacture needed products in conformity with EU legislation and get them on the market quicker. We've published guidance with practical Q&As in the following areas: PPE, leave-on hand cleaners and hand disinfectants and 3D printing.
Free flow of protective equipment within the internal market
The free movement of goods and services in the single market is our strongest asset to ensure supplies as no EU country can meet all of its own needs for products. We are addressing export bans and have issued border management guidance to keep essential goods available. In addition, we are working with EU countries through the Single Market Enforcement Task Force to ensure the free flow of products such as face masks, medical supplies and food across the single market. We have also approved measures on the export of protective equipment outside the EU.
Free movement of health professionals and their training
EU countries are struggling to provide enough medical staff to fight the crisis and still be able to diagnose, treat and care for patients. The situation may also have an impact on the possibility to provide full training to health professions. We have issued a communication with guidance to EU countries to help them address the shortages of health workers and minimise the effects of the coronavirus emergency's impact on harmonised training requirements. The guidance addresses practical concerns regarding the implementation of Directive 2005/36/EC on professional qualifications in respect to healthcare professionals.
Using public procurement
Hospitals and healthcare professionals urgently need medical supplies and personal protective equipment purchased by public authorities. The European Commission has released new guidance for public buyers to help them use the flexibility provided by the EU’s public procurement framework to ensure rapid and efficient purchases of all necessary equipment.
The Commission has made liquidity measures available to support European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). €1 billion was redirected from the European Fund for Strategic Investments to reinforce the COSME Loan Guarantee Facility and the InnovFin SME Guarantee Facility to mobilise liquidity support for at least 100,000 SMEs. EU countries, national promotional and commercial banks have also put measures in place to facilitate the provision of financing to SMEs adversely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and increase flexibility on loan repayments. In addition, we've launched the ESCALAR programme to boost financial aid for companies looking to scale up. The Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) is also helping SMEs through innovation partnerships on areas linked to COVID-19 (such as PPE and medical equipment) and advice on accessing dedicated European and national financial support.
Commission-wide response to the coronavirus
Commission-wide safe COVID-19 vaccines approach
Communication on the coordinated economic response to the COVID-19 outbreak (PDF)
EU industry steps in to protect European citizens - factsheet and interactive tool