On 4 August, High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell took part alongside the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, in the “Conference in support of the Lebanese people”, hosted by President of France Emmanuel Macron and the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed.
The conference, which follows the conferences of 9 August and 2 December 2020, took place one year after the dramatic explosion at the Beirut port of 4 August 2020. One year after the financial and economic crises have dramatically impoverished the Lebanese population and severely constrained their access to basic services.
High Representative/Vice-President Borrell reconfirmed the EU’s full solidarity and support to the Lebanese people and recalled the need for the investigation into the causes of the Beirut blast to produce results without further delays.
High Representative/Vice-President Borrell recalled that the EU was at the forefront of the efforts to provide emergency support to Lebanon, mobilising a total of €170 million for immediate needs and to address the consequences of the blast. On the humanitarian front, the EU has been committed to address the humanitarian needs in Lebanon since many years. In 2020, the European Commission assisted Lebanon with €83 million in humanitarian funding. During the Conference, the HR/VP announced an additional allocation of €5.5 million of European Commission support to the health sector in Lebanon, notably as an additional response to the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing to €55.5 million the support for the most vulnerable in 2021.
The EU has re-oriented ongoing projects worth approximately €265 million in order to support the population affected by the Beirut blast and the COVID-19 pandemic in different sectors. Furthermore, together with the UN and the World Bank, the EU has set up and is engaged in the implementation of the Reform, Recovery and Reconstruction Framework (3RF), a people-centred framework, guided by the principles of transparency, accountability and inclusion. In the 3RF context, the EU has made an initial contribution worth €10 million and intends to continue its support with a view to a rapid and effective implementation of the Framework.
The High Representative/Vice-President stressed again that Lebanese must now cooperate to find a way out of the current crisis Lebanon is facing. Following the nomination of Mr. Najib Mikati as Prime Minister-designate last week, a government must be formed soonest, which urgently implements the much-needed economic and governance reforms. An IMF programme remains indispensable to rescue the country‘s economy.
The High Representative/Vice-President reiterated that the EU stands ready to use the different tools at its disposal to support the recovery and the reform process in Lebanon, and, depending on tangible progress on reforms, also in its reconstruction.
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Xavier CIFRE QUATRESOLS
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