EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti has called on the international community to join forces to combat the coronavirus pandemic. “We have a collective responsibility,” the EBRD head said at the meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs/Development Council today which he joined via video link.
With its initial €1 billion Solidarity Package, approved on 13 March, the EBRD took a first step to address urgent needs of businesses and economies. “Demand for emergency financing is huge,” President Chakrabarti said, adding that the Bank was already working on a second phase of its programme. He also said, “We never operate in isolation. As a multilateral bank with a European heart, we coordinate our work at all levels to ensure maximum impact.”
He strongly endorsed the “Team Europe” initiative led by the European Commission which aims to provide support to partner countries during and after the Covid-19 crisis, including humanitarian and health actions as well as support to overcome the social and economic consequences of the pandemic. “The EBRD stands ready to support Team Europe as a strong partner of the EU,” he said.
Outlining the scale of the challenge the EBRD President warned that the current crisis, in addition to the tragic loss of life, is expected to lead to the “greatest disruption to global economic activity since the Second World War”. Emergency measures in many countries around the world have severely impacted economic activity, while countries are facing a huge increase in public spending at a time when revenues are shrinking.
This also affects many economies where the EBRD invests in the Western Balkans, eastern Europe and North Africa, regions with which the EU is also closely linked through its Neighbourhood and Partnership policies and programmes. The EBRD has a strong local presence that reaches as far as Central Asia.
It is uniquely placed to address immediate threats rapidly and effectively while also continuing its work towards the development of successful economies based on a vibrant private sector through its combination of investment and policy engagement.