Coronavirus: Commission delivers first batch of 1.5 million masks from 10 million purchased to support EU healthcare workers

Over the coming days, 1.5 million medical masks will be delivered to 17 Member States and the UK to protect healthcare workers against coronavirus. This latest EU mask delivery is part of a new Commission funded purchase of 10 million masks via the Emergency Support Instrument to provide direct support to Member States to mitigate the immediate consequences of the pandemic and anticipate the needs related to the exit and recovery.

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said: “We are doing everything we can to support Member States in getting protective equipment to health workers on the frontline. They are Europe’s modern day heroes. This is EU solidarity in action to help respond to the needs of European health systems and €3 billion has been mobilised from the EU budget to directly support national efforts. We remain steadfast in our commitment: together we can win this fight.”

The masks will be delivered to Member States and regions in need in weekly instalments of 1.5 million masks over the coming six weeks.

These deliveries take place on top of the hundreds of thousands of masks already provided from the rescEU reserve of medical equipment in the past weeks, as well as assistance mobilised via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

Only a few weeks ago, on 24 April, the Commission decided to mobilise, under the Emergency Support Instrument (ESI), €320 million for Emergency Support actions, of which €100 million are for essential health-related products that will be procured in the coming months.


The Commission is mobilising €3 billion from the EU budget to directly support Member States’ health care systems, of which €2.7 billion will be channelled through the Emergency Support Instrument and €300 million through the rescEU medical equipment capacity. Additional contributions are possible, including from Member States.

The Emergency Support Instrument allows direct support to EU Member States in their efforts to address the pandemic through measures that can deliver greater impact if taken at EU level. It does not replace existing instruments (joint procurement, rescEU, etc.) but complements them.

This will allow the Commission to support a wide range of initiatives, including:

  • purchasing medical equipment such as ventilators and masks;
  • coordinating and financially supporting the transport of patients to EU Member States with spare hospital capacity;
  • contributing to increase the rollout and testing across the EU;
  • supporting the deployment of vaccines, some of which might be the result of significant support under other EU initiatives.

Thanks to this tool, the EU can deploy targeted actions preventing and mitigating the immediate acute consequences in one or more Member States and to support in a coordinated manner the needs related to the exit and recovery from the corona crisis in the medium to long term.

The Commission will thus be providing a holistic EU response throughout the corona crisis.

To implement the support, the Commission continues to work closely with national health authorities, international organisations and with the non-governmental sector.

For more information

Factsheet: EU Medical and Health Support

EU Coronavirus Response