BRUSSELS — Italy has become the first European Union country to apply for financial aid from a 800-million euros fund set up by the 27-country bloc to tackle the crisis triggered by the new coronavirus pandemics.
Italy has been the hardest-hit EU country by the deadly virus so far with some 26,000 fatalities.
The fund initially was designed to help countries hit by natural disasters. Now it can be used in health emergencies like the COVID-19 crisis after the European Council and the EU Parliament approved a proposal from the bloc’s executive arm.
The European Commission said Monday that member states can request aid until June 24. Applications will then be assessed by the Commission, which will submit a proposal for financial aid to the Council and the Parliament.
The Commission will deal with all applications in one single package, not on a first come first served basis.