As part of Team Europe's global response to the coronavirus pandemic, the European Union announced today a new €20 million programme to support the preparedness and response capacities of our partners in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The South-East Asia Pandemic Response and Preparedness programme will be implemented by the World Health Organization, working closely with national authorities and the ASEAN Secretariat. It will enhance regional coordination of the COVID-19 response and strengthen the capacity of health systems in South-East Asia, while paying special attention to vulnerable populations.
Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, announced the programme at the 23rd EU-ASEAN Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting: “*The South-East Asia Pandemic Response and Preparedness programme is part of the European Union's €350 million solidarity response to support our ASEAN partners in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. Strong regional coordination on access to information, equipment and vaccines is essential for overcoming this crisis. We are in this together and, as partners, stronger together*.”
The programme, with a duration of 42 months, will strengthen the monitoring and testing capacities of ASEAN Member States, as well as the capacity of their health institutions and workers to manage the caseload while maintaining essential health services. The programme will also support timely and transparent communication about the pandemic, and help reach people living in rural and remote areas with information about the preventive measures, symptoms and risks.
The EU response to the coronavirus pandemic in the South-East Asian region amounts to €350 million. Adding the contribution from EU Member States, the Team Europe response reaches a total of more than €800 million.
To address the health and socio-economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the EU has reoriented programmes in South-East Asia, while focusing particularly on the need for public communication and research. The EU support to Indonesia, for example, has included digital solutions for tracking COVID-19 expenditures of the Government, helping to ensure their transparency and accountability.
The EU is a major development cooperation partner of ASEAN and its Member States. In the period 2014-2020, the EU supported the ASEAN Secretariat and ASEAN regional integration with over €250 million, while bilateral EU support to ASEAN Member States amounted to €2 billion.
Regional development cooperation programmes focus mainly on connectivity through sustainable economic integration and trade; climate change, environment and disaster management; comprehensive EU-ASEAN policy dialogue in joint areas of interest; higher education and student mobility in ASEAN; and the elimination of violence against women and girls and support to the rights and opportunities of women migrant workers.
The ASEAN-EU Dialogue on Sustainable Development, started in 2017, is an important high-level policy platform for exchanges on sustainable development cooperation.
ASEAN includes 10 Member States: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
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