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EU staff show support for communities across Europe with launch of Covid-19 relief fund
Staff from the EU institutions have dug into their own pockets to raise over €150,000 for charities offering medical and food aid in pandemic-ravaged Spain and northern Italy.
Colleagues from the cross-institutional group EUStaff4Climate launched the EU Staff COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund a month ago. They are calling on staff across the EU institutions to pledge at least 2% of their salary every month.
While the focus for now is to show European solidarity in action and distribute help quickly where it is needed, the longer-term ambition is to help to 'build back better' after the crisis, fostering a more sustainable economy and society in Europe, said the King Baudouin Foundation on Thursday.
Belgium’s leading philanthropy institution, expert in cross-border giving, is managing the fund and helping to select projects along with a steering committee chaired by former senior EU official David O’Sullivan.
The motivation for setting up the fund was both an immediate emotional response and “an awareness that a clear sign needed to be given about the solidarity of the EU”, said one of its founders, Bruno Mola.
“Even if we are sometimes misunderstood, we are public servants and we want to work for the public good. This kind of event profoundly affects society in the EU and we felt directly compelled to act,” added the European Commission policy officer.
It was watching the coronavirus crisis unfold in his native Italy, “an early alert of the seriousness of the situation”, that led Mola to act; a sentiment shared by his colleagues. “We wanted to contribute directly to fighting the virus and the crisis in general,” he said.
Calling on colleagues to donate a minimum 2% of their salaries would provide security for the fund and enable it to make important donations during the long recovery period beyond the pandemic, he said.
“Keeping the fire alive”, is one of the challenges they face, along with increasing the number of donors. “The ambition is to make this the fund of the donors themselves; we want to have a direct relationship with them,” said Mola.
While the EU Staff COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund is a separate initiative to EUStaff4Climate, the fundraiser shares a similar vision. “We believe that corona is not just another crisis, but another symptom of the same systemic disease that we are facing. So our aim is to respond to the Covid crisis with a wider view on the state of the planet,” he said.
The King Baudouin Foundation would have a pivotal role in addition to helping with fundraising. “We needed an institution with experience and a network in other countries that could also ensure accountability and transparency in managing this important amount of money,” added Mola.
Photo: iStock/Getty Images Plus