An extraordinary meeting of the State Commission on Technogenic and Environmental Safety and Emergencies took place

Source: Government of Ukraine

In particular, among the topics tackled were the issues of changing the strategy of combating COVID-19, increasing population testing, strengthening control over compliance with the conditions of self-isolation and tracking possible contacts.

An extraordinary meeting of the State Commission on Technogenic and Environmental Safety and Emergencies was held on Monday, August 10, under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

Denys Shmyhal noted that due to the deteriorating epidemic situation, the Government is introducing daily work of the State Commission on Technogenic and Environmental Safety and Emergencies and strengthening measures to monitor compliance with quarantine rules.

According to the Prime Minister, by September 15, 2020, the number of daily PCR testing should increase up to 30,000. Categorization of persons tested for infection should also be introduced.

“We should introduce a compulsory marking of the tests of the National Police, doctors, teachers and some other categories of workers separately. In this way we will be able to get more detailed statistics and understanding in which categories the disease spreads faster,” said the Prime Minister.

Another objective of the Government, as Denys Shmyhal noted, should be to improve the so-called system “Detection-testing-isolation-contacts”. In particular, the creation of a system for tracking contact persons through surveys.

The Minister of Health Maxym Stepanov stated that as of today more than 28,000 active patients with COVID-19 and almost 100,000 high-risk exposure contact persons are staying in self-isolation.

“On average, we have 4-5 contact persons for each case. It is important that all people who are high-risk exposure contacts, without exception, are in self-isolation in accordance with the established rules through the use of the application “Diia. Act at Home”, said Maxym Stepanov.

Following the extraordinary meeting of the State Commission on Technogenic and Environmental Safety and Emergencies, the Prime Minister commissioned the following:

– to work out the mechanism of sending epidemiologists of the State Service on Food Safety and Consumer Protection to the laboratory centers of the Ministry of Health to conduct epidemic investigations;

– for the heads of regional state administrations (RSA) and the Ministry of Health to intensify the work aimed to increase the number of beds with oxygen supply in the hospitals of the second wave of admission of patients with COVID-19. At present, such hospitals have 10.300 beds, as well as 1,442 mechanical ventilators;

– for the National Police to report daily during the Commission’s meeting on the inspections carried out for compliance with the quarantine rules;

– for the Ministry of Digital Transformation to provide with daily information on the number of installations of the “Diia. Act at Home” application.

Programme of events for ‘Supermanx’ Long Bank Holiday weekend announced

Source: Isle of Man

Headline: Programme of events for ‘Supermanx’ Long Bank Holiday weekend announced

The Department for Enterprise has announced a packed programme of special events for Isle of Man residents and visitors from Guernsey to look forward to. The ‘Supermanx’ Bank Holiday will take place Friday 28 August to Monday 31 August 2020 and encompasses the whole Island, with community events in Douglas, Ramsey, Laxey, Peel, Castletown and Port Erin. 

Protecting Indigenous Peoples is pursuing a better world

Source: European Union External Action

The COVID-19 pandemic is posing enormous challenges to the entire human population, affecting in particular and disproportionately those who experience pre-existing inequalities and disadvantages. Indigenous peoples have too often been marginalised and their rights neglected. They have seen their communities being driven out of their territories, witnessed the devastation of natural resources, and remain experiencing lack of acknowledgement of their basic rights. Today, more than 476 million indigenous peoples are much more exposed to adversity.

Indigenous peoples are three times more likely to live in extreme poverty. A large percentage works in informal economy, without any social protection – which reinforces the vulnerability in the current circumstances. Issues of food insecurity due to income loss and the disruption of traditional activities are common.

Their health is also at risk. Lack of access to water and sanitation, but also to appropriate healthcare and information about COVID-19 makes it harder for many indigenous peoples to protect themselves.

The High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell has recognised the seriousness of the situation, stating on behalf of the EU that “The EU extends its solidarity to all indigenous peoples around the world at a time when their health, lives and livelihoods are endangered by the COVID-19 pandemic”. Josep Borrell also calls for joint efforts: “(…) there is an urgent need to redouble global efforts to tackle the discrimination, racism and inequalities facing indigenous peoples.”

The EU is taking additional measures on the ground to support indigenous peoples. Ensuring food supply, health assistance and carrying out communication campaigns are some examples.

In the Amazonas, more than 700 thousand COVID-19 infections were registered by the end of July. The EU continues working with indigenous peoples, as well as all our partners, such as governments, international organisations or civil society, to combat the spread of the virus and its adverse impacts on the most vulnerable people.

As a concrete example, the EU has been supporting the Guarani Kaiowá people, by adapting its supporting programme to the current situation. A creative solution was designed to communicate about actions to prevent COVID-19: a sound car passing messages in the Guarani language in 14 indigenous villages of 4 municipalities. 20.000 booklets have also been made available in Portuguese and Guarani languages, illustrating preventive measures.

The EU is also giving support to sanitary barriers and to healthcare agents. Providing financial and juridical support to the indigenous managers of sanitary barriers so that they can control the entry and exit of indigenous villages is key to control the risk of infection. The purchase and distribution of Individual Protection Equipment also contributes to contain the spread of the virus and ensure the protection of medical staff.

Collaboration with partners that are acting on the ground has also proven to produce effective results. This is the case in the Argentinian Province of Salta, in the Colombian department of Amazonas and in the border regions of Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela. DG ECHO has been supporting international and local organisations in these areas.

In the Colombian department of Amazonas, the intervention will last for six months and provides emergency health, water and sanitation and food aid to more than 13,000 people in both rural and urban areas.

Cooperation with national governments is also important to ensure the involvement of states in the protection of its population. The project Amazonia 2.0, financed by the EU, brings together 6 Amazonian countries: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Surinam. The actions of this project have also been adapted to the current situation by redesigning its main objectives to include contingency measures to prevent and fight the spread of COVID-19.

A long journey

The EU has been supporting and cooperating with indigenous peoples for decades, reconfirming its commitment in 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly and by organising the EU Roundtable with Indigenous Peoples’ Experts and Representatives in February 2020 in Brussels. From this roundtable, suggestions have been made on how the EU can implement better its ambitious Green Deal.

Providing human rights protection remains a key priority. The EU has been working to combat the exposure to human rights violations, by support to human rights defenders in the reporting of crimes and in calling international attention to these. The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) has been activated to support and finance more than 30,000 human rights defenders and their families from 2015 to 2019.

EU’s support to land governance and secure access and tenure of land is equally important. The EU is supporting land governance in about 40 countries with a total budget of €240 million. As an example, the EU’s support to land governance in Colombia enabled the collective titling of 280,000 hectares benefitting some 8,000 indigenous and Afro-Colombian families.

Indigenous peoples are part of the solution in answering to the global climate and environmental crisis. The protection and preservation of indigenous peoples’ territories are essential for the protection of biodiversity and climate. During the European Development Days (EDDs) held in June of 2019, the European External Action Service (EEAS) organised an event aimed at strengthening international solidarity and support to indigenous peoples and environmental human rights defenders.

Protecting the rights and the lives of indigenous peoples is central to the pursuit of a better world, respect for human rights, human diversity and for a more environmentally friendly world.

Ireland: Government Launches €500 million Long-term lending for SMEs, Farmers and Fishing

Source: European Investment Bank

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar T.D. the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe T.D and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Dara Calleary T.D. today (Thursday the 30th of July) launched a €500 million expansion to the Future Growth Loan, the government’s scheme to support SMEs, farmers and fishing. The additional funding will be provided by the European Investment Bank Group.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar T.D. said:

“The past few months have been very difficult for businesses. Things will continue to be extremely challenging over the coming months and the new government must do everything possible to help businesses navigate this unprecedented time and get back on their feet.

“Today, we’re announcing an expansion of the Future Growth Loan Scheme. Applications are now open, making available a further €500m of long-term loans to help more SMEs make investments to enable them to expand, diversify or improve productivity. These loans will help business, such as Luzern Technology, who I met today, adapt and position themselves to succeed in their new trading environment.”

The government launched the first €300 million round of the Scheme last year helping 1,150 SMEs, farmers and fishers to date make strategic investments to grow their businesses. Today’s announcement will see the European Investment Bank Group provide an additional €500m for the Scheme, bringing the total investment in the Scheme to €800m.

Loans of between €25,000 to €3 million are available at competitive rates for terms between 7 and 10 years. The scheme will facilitate significant injections of liquidity for businesses looking to develop strategic responses to the changing business conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and by Brexit. This scheme will help to facilitate innovation and ensure that our enterprise base is sustainable into the future.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe T.D. said:

“I welcome this increase in capacity for the Future Growth Loan Scheme. These loans will provide essential funding for companies who wish to invest for the longer term to enable them to deal with both the current COVID-19 crisis and the upcoming challenge of Brexit”.

Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine Dara Calleary T.D. said:

“The uptake of the Future Growth Loan Scheme by the agri-food sector has been very strong and I am aware that there has been some unfulfilled demand. Not only will the new expansion meet that demand, the evolution of the Scheme will assist in meeting the new challenges being posed by COVID-19 and the ongoing challenges the sector has in dealing with Brexit. The unsecured nature of the funding particularly helps young and new entrant farmers, as well as smaller farmers, but it is a crucial support to all parts of the production chain; farmers, fishers, forestry and food & beverage production.”

Present at the launch were Mr. Ken Doyle, CEO, and Mr. Pat Sherlock, Chief Platform Officer, of Luzern Technology Solutions Limited. Luzern Technology Solutions Limited has secured lending under the Future Growth Loan Scheme and met with the Tánaiste today to explain how the Scheme has supported them to invest in new international opportunities arising from the current economic situation. 

The scheme is supported by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine, the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund, and delivered by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI).

The European Investment Bank’s engagement has been partially guaranteed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments.

To access the Scheme, businesses must apply for eligibility through the SBCI. The application form, along with full details of the scheme, is available through the SBCI website www.sbci.gov.ie.

Bank of Ireland, AIB and Ulster Bank are now accepting loan applications for the Scheme from businesses meeting SBCI eligibility. The SBCI is actively engaged with three other financial providers who responded to the open call and hopes to announce them as scheme partners in the coming weeks. Businesses are advised to check the SBCI website for up to date information in relation to participating financial providers.

SBCI CEO, Nick Ashmore said:

“We have seen strong uptake of the Future Growth Loan Scheme since its introduction. The Scheme, which allows SMEs to invest in innovating and expanding their business using low-cost, longer-term and more accessible funding aligns closely with the SBCI’s objective of supporting and promoting the provision of financing to small businesses. With this expansion, the Scheme can continue to deliver real impact and much needed support for SMEs. The addition of new partners will help to generate much needed competition in the SME finance sector.

Andrew McDowell, Vice President of the European Investment Bank Group, speaking from Luxembourg, said:

“The European Investment Bank Group has worked closely with the Irish Government and the SBCI to ensure that Irish businesses can access finance and working capital through the Brexit Loan Scheme, the Future Growth Loan Scheme and the new COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme. In recent weeks the European Investment Bank and European Investment Fund have expanded financing for Irish companies, and we stand ready to further enhance our support for a solid, resilient and sustainable economic recovery in Ireland.”

Mr. Ken Doyle, CEO of Luzern Technology Solutions Limited, said:

“The Future Growth Loan Scheme provided important liquidity support to Luzern Technology Solutions Limited at a vital period of growth and expansion for our business.  Having access to loan facilities such as this is critical in ensuring that Irish businesses have the capacity to compete and win on the world stage and I would encourage every business and entrepreneur to look at the benefits this loan scheme can provide, especially in these unprecedented times.”

President Werner Hoyer to speak at the International conference on assistance and support to Beirut and the Lebanese people

Source: European Investment Bank

By letter dated 11 June 2020, Mr Audrius LINARTAS (Executive Director at the Authority of Audit, Accounting, Property Valuation and Insolvency Management under the Ministry of Finance, Lithuania) was nominated by the Republic of Lithuania, by common accord with the constituency of the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Austria, the Republic of Finland and the Kingdom of Sweden for appointment as a member of the Audit Committee of the European Investment Bank.

Speech by President Michel at the international conference on assistance and support to Beirut

Source: Council of the European Union 2

This time yesterday I was in the port of Beirut, witnessing the immensity of the tragedy that hit the country. A tragedy that is beyond words, the images of which will remain in my memory forever.

I met rescuers from Lebanon, from Europe and from other countries, working around the clock in the devastated remains of the port. And I was impressed. Impressed by their courage and by their determination.

I met survivors of this catastrophe, some wounded, all in shock. And I was touched. Touched by their resilience.

I saw the people, most of them young, gathering in the streets, calling for a better future.

I had the opportunity to convey in person the condolences of Europe to the victims and their families and to express our solidarity with the people in Lebanon.

These difficult times call for urgent action. We have indeed to focus in the first place on the immediate needs of the people in Lebanon.

This is why the EU has activated its emergency mechanisms. It has already mobilised 33 million euros and is offering 30 millions more for the most urgent needs. More than 250 rescuers from European Member States are on the ground. Tons of emergency supplies have been made available and more will follow. Commissioner Lenarcic will provide more details.

Together with the President of the European Commission, we called on all leaders of Member States to intensify the support to Lebanon. I was personally in contact with many of them. I can assure you, they all stand ready to help and to provide assistance to those who need it. 

Secondly, we have to look to the future.

What struck me most yesterday was the need for confidence, the need for trust and the need to know the truth:

The people in Lebanon want to know the truth, they deserve transparency and justice. An independent and credible inquiry into the cause of this tragedy is therefore crucial. The European Union and its Member States stand ready to assist.

Confidence is also needed to create a political and economic environment based on accountability and transparency. It’s high time to implement a credible reform agenda, including in the financial sector, the energy sector and in terms of anti-corruption measures.

An agreement with the International Monetary Fund is urgently needed. This will help put Lebanon on a solid path towards a brighter economic future.

I called on the Lebanese political authorities to work together, overcome their differences and drive these reforms for the good of the people.

Confidence is key: confidence of the people in their authorities and confidence of the international community in the real implementation of reforms in Lebanon. We will be by the side of the people in Lebanon in the longer-term reconstruction efforts too, for the benefit of the country, for the benefit of the people.

With full solidarity and real political will, something good will follow from this tragedy. 

I reiterate the promise I made yesterday to the people in Beirut:

You are not alone.

Europe is ready to act.

And you can count on us.

Statement by the High Representative Josep Borrell on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean

Source: European Union External Action

Latest naval mobilisations in Eastern Mediterranean are extremely worrying. They will not contribute to finding any solutions. On the contrary, they will lead to a greater antagonism and distrust. Maritime boundaries must be defined through dialogue and negotiations, not through unilateral actions and mobilisation of naval forces. Disputes must be solved in accordance with international law. The European Union is committed to help solving such disputes and disagreements in this area of vital security interest. As the High Representative for EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, I will deploy all efforts necessary to re-establish such a dialogue and to facilitate re-engagement. The present course of action will not serve the interests neither of the European Union, nor of Turkey. We have to work together for the security in the Mediterranean.

More financial literacy in pandemic times A free online course on financial intermediation as a motor for equitable and robust growth

Source: European Investment Bank

Developed by the IMF in collaboration with the European Investment Bank, the free, online course Financial Development and Financial Inclusion (FDFIx) is the result of the two institutions’ decades-long combined expertise in banking and financial sector policy.  

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Understand why financial market development and financial inclusion matter for economic growth and development. Measure the degree of financial development and inclusion for a single country or multiple countries using a wide range of standard indicators.
  • Identify strategies and policies that support the development of financial intermediaries and capital markets in a country. Understand the unique challenges SMEs face in getting access to finance; describe how financial intermediaries can design their products to meet SME needs.
  • Apply standard methodologies for managing risks associated with SME lending; evaluate how government policies can improve the lending environment for SMEs and understand the role of state banks and multilateral development banks, including their role in mitigating risks.
  • Understand various uses of technology in the financial sector (Fintech) and how they can be used to improve the efficiency and inclusiveness of financial services without generating instability.

Since the launch, 400 participants invited by the EIB have already enrolled in the course. They work for financial intermediaries, government, multilateral and other development institutions. They come from over 20 countries across five continents, from the Dominican Republic to Somalia.

Debora Revoltella, Director of the EIB Economics Department, said: “We developed this online training with the goal of overcoming physical barriers and leave no one behind. During this pandemic, offering a learning opportunity while everyone was locked at home became even more important. By covering topics such as financial development and standard SME lending techniques, we want to increase the resilience of our partners and ensure that lending continues to be available for those companies who need funding during such difficult times”

For more details, please visit the dedicated EIB webpage. Click here to apply to this course

European Parliament gives its opinion on the activities of the EIB

Source: European Investment Bank

On 9 July 2020, the European Parliament has adopted two resolutions on the European Investment Bank’s annual activities:

The EIB’s crucial role as the Bank of the EU

The report from the Committee on Budgets highlights the importance of the activities of the EIB in 2018, as the Bank of the European Union. Specifically, it welcomes the EIB’s role within the context of the EU’s COVID-19 response, in particular the support provided to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). In addition, it underlines the crucial role the EIB will have to play in putting into practice the European Green Deal and welcomes the EIB’s plans to align its activities fully with global climate action objectives

The report contains a number of specific recommendations for further improvements in the area of transparency, accountability and anti-fraud safeguards as well as regarding environmental and social standards at project level.  It also asks to further strengthen relations between the EIB and the European Parliament by concluding an inter-institutional agreement.

The result of the vote for the report was: 527 in favour, 73 against, 91 abstentions.

Recommendations to improve our control of financial activities

The report on the control of EIB´s financial activities in 2018 picks up on issues related to governance, accountability and transparency. It makes a number of specific recommendations, such as:

  • reviewing the Code of Conduct of the Management Committee and the Board of Directors
  • strengthening internal control frameworks to prevent tax avoidance, money-laundering, fraud and corruption
  • increasing transparency of governing bodies and Bank-financed projects
  • widening the scrutiny of the EP and the Court of Auditors on EIB operations

The report notes that EIB operations evolved and became more diversified due to the growth of activities under the EFSI. Members also called for the EIB to take a leading role in the development of a climate neutral economy on a national level.

The result of the vote for the report was: 531 in favour, 80 against and 80 abstentions.

EIB President Werner Hoyer commented on the adoption of the two reports: “We welcome these reports from the European Parliament and I would like to thank the rapporteurs, David Cormand and Bas Eickhout, for their excellent and constructive work. We take the recommendations of the European Parliament very seriously and we are committed to further improving the impact of our lending and our internal control frameworks. There is no room for complacency in that regard, especially in these difficult times when maximising the impact of scarce resources is an imperative. We are committed to mitigating the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic both inside and outside the Union. At the same time, we remain steadfast in delivering the most ambitious climate agenda of all International Financing Institutions. Our priority now is to ensure a sustainable recovery and a better future for our Member States and160 countries of operation around the world. The support from the European Parliament is essential for us to deliver on these urgent objectives and I am looking forward to continuing our good relationship in the future.”

2X Challenge Exceeds Original Target by Committing and Mobilizing $ 4.5 Billion to Empower Women

Source: European Investment Bank

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©Brian Power

The 2X Challenge is a multilateral initiative launched during the G7 Charlevoix Summit in June 2018 with the ambitious objective of deploying and mobilising unprecedented amounts of capital to support projects that empower women as entrepreneurs, as business leaders, as employees and as consumers of products and services that enhance their economic participation.

The EIB became the first multilateral development bank to endorse and use the 2X Criteria in October 2019.

Just two years after the launch of the 2X Challenge, the initiative has committed and mobilised a total $4.5 billion in gender-smart investments. Founding G7 DFIs contributed and mobilized $4.1 billion, surpassing the initial target of $3 billion by the end of 2020.

With additional members having joined the 2X Challenge and a new set of guidance designed to help financiers manage the gendered impacts of their investments; the 2X Reference Guide for Investors, the momentum to advance women’s economic participation and empowerment continues to grow.

The remarkable results of the 2X Challenge clearly indicate that more can be done by DFIs and private sector financiers to foster gender equality and women’s economic participation in the developing world. However, gender-smart investors face unprecedented challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts health, economic and financial systems on a global scale, magnifying pre-existing gender inequalities and vulnerabilities.In addition, recent racial justice movements have highlighted the need for a more proactive strategy to tackle global injustices and inequalities as well as systemic racism. The 2X Challenge recognises that gender equality cannot truly be achieved if other forms of discrimination and inequity exist. Conversations are currently taking place to determine concrete ways to use the 2X Challenge platform and framework to drive and foster greater diversity – including, but not limited to, gender diversity.