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SURE: Report confirms instrument's success in protecting jobs and incomes

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The Commission has published its second report on the impact of SURE, the €100 billion instrument designed to protect jobs and incomes affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report finds that SURE has been successful in cushioning the severe socio-economic impact resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. National labour market measures supported by SURE are estimated to have reduced unemployment by almost 1.5 million people in 2020. SURE has helped to effectively contain the increase in unemployment in the beneficiary member states during the crisis. Thanks to SURE and other support measures, this increase in unemployment has turned out to be significantly smaller than during the global financial crisis, despite the much larger fall in GDP.

SURE is a crucial element of the EU's comprehensive strategy to protect citizens and mitigate the negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides financial support in the form of loans granted on favourable terms from the EU to Member States to finance national short-time work schemes, similar measures to preserve jobs and support incomes ­ – notably for the self-employed, and some health-related measures.

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A total of €94.3 billion of financial assistance has so far been approved to 19 member states, of which €89.6bn has been disbursed. SURE can still provide almost €6bn of financial assistance to member states out of the total envelope of €100bn.

Main findings

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SURE has supported approximately 31 million people in 2020, of which 22.5 million are employees and 8.5 million self-employed. This represents more than one quarter of the total number of people employed in the 19 beneficiary Member States.

Moreover, around 2.5 million firms affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have benefitted from SURE, allowing them to retain workers.

Given the EU's strong credit rating, beneficiary Member States have saved an estimated €8.2 billion in interest payments thanks to SURE.

The Commission raised a further €36 billion across three issuances since the time of the drafting of the first report in March 2021. These issuances were largely oversubscribed. All funds have been raised as social bonds, giving investors confidence that their money goes towards a social purpose, and making the EU the world's largest issuer of social bonds.

On 4 March 2021, the Commission presented a Recommendation on Effective Active Support to Employment following the COVID-19 crisis (EASE). It outlines a strategic approach to gradually transition between emergency measures taken to preserve jobs during the pandemic and new measures needed for a job-rich recovery. With EASE, the Commission promotes job creation and job-to-job transitions, including towards the digital and green sectors, and invites Member States to use available EU funds.

An Economy that Works for People Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said: “The SURE scheme has proven its worth and continues to fulfil its purpose. We created it during an emergency to prop up people's incomes, protect their families and preserve their livelihoods when they needed it most. Its success can be measured by the figures in today's report, showing that SURE managed to keep many millions of Europeans in a job during the worst of the crisis. It has played a major part in Europe's overall response, for which we must also thank national governments. As we exit the pandemic, our approach should gradually focus on promoting quality job creation and easing job-to-job transitions through training and other measures.”

Jobs and Social Rights Commissioner Nicolas Schmit said: “The SURE instrument has proven to be both innovative and indispensable. It is a shining example of a Europe that protects and works for people. The report published today states that making finance available to Member States through SURE helped avoid up to 1.5 million more people entering unemployment in 2020. SURE helped to stem this flow. Now, we must act equally resolutely and quickly to put in place active labour market policies for a job-rich recovery in the changing labour market.”

Background

The Commission proposed the SURE Regulation on 2 April 2020, as part of the EU's initial response to the pandemic. It was adopted by the Council on 19 May 2020, and became available after all member states signed the guarantee agreements on 22 September 2020. The first disbursement took place five weeks after SURE became available.

Budget and Administration Commissioner Johannes Hahn said: “It is reassuring that the money raised on the market under SURE has helped EU countries achieved impressive results in a short period of time. For the Commission, SURE has set the scene for borrowing under the much bigger NextGenerationEU recovery instrument. With €49 billion disbursed to 13 EU countries so far and a few billion to EU budget programmes, NextGenerationEU is also making sure the recovery works for all.”

Today's report is the second report on SURE addressed to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC) and the Employment Committee (EMCO). Under Article 14 of the SURE Regulation, the Commission is legally required to issue such a report within 6 months of the day that the instrument became available. The first report was published on 22 March 2021. Subsequent reports will follow every six months for as long as SURE remains available.

Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said: “This second report on the impact of SURE confirms the value of this unprecedented instrument of solidarity. The figures speak for themselves: 1.5 million fewer unemployed, 31 million workers and 2.5 million firms supported, and more than €8 billion in interest savings. I am proud of the European success story that is SURE: a success story upon which we must build!”

The Commission is issuing social bonds to finance the SURE instrument and using the proceeds to provide back-to-back loans to beneficiary member states. Further information on these bonds, along with a full overview of the funds raised under each issuance and the beneficiary member states, is available online here.

More information

Second report on the implementation of SURE

SURE website

Factsheet on SURE

SURE Regulation

EU as a borrower website

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Commission proposes additional funding to support global vaccination and to respond to global emergencies

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The European Commission has proposed to amend the EU Budget 2021 to provide additional support to policy areas which need reinforcement in view of recent developments and additional needs. Concretely, this Draft Amending Budget 6 will help speed up global vaccinations. It will provide an additional €450 million to reach the €1.3 billion which are needed to secure an additional 200 million doses of vaccines against COVID-19 for low and middle-income countries through COVAX, as announced by President von der Leyen in her State of the Union speech. This Draft Amending Budget 6 also proposes reinforcing the EU Civil Protection Mechanism with €57.8m. The funds foreseen in the budget to address emergencies need to be increased to cover the costs of the response to the emergencies and natural disasters which occurred last summer, including repatriation flights for EU nationals based in Afghanistan, operations in Haiti following the recent earthquake and fighting forest fires in Europe. The Draft Amending Budget needs to be approved by the European Parliament and by EU member states in the Council. A Q&A with more information is available here.

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COVID-19 vaccination: MEPs call for EU and global solidarity

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The EU must continue its concerted efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and take urgent measures to ramp up vaccines production to meet citizens’ expectations, MEPs say,  PLENARY SESSION ENVI.

In the plenary debate with the Portuguese Presidency and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, MEPs commented on the state of play of the EU’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy.

Many members emphasized that the EU had made the right key decisions, especially on the collective European approach to vaccination and on standing up for its citizens’ rights by putting safety first and enforcing EU liability rules.

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President von der Leyen defended the EU’s choice to order vaccines collectively, the need for global solidarity and the decision not to take any shortcuts on the safety and efficiency of vaccines. Lessons must be drawn from past mistakes, she acknowledged, as “we are still not where we want to be in the fight against the virus”.

Solutions to exit the crisis must be found in the spirit of solidarity, between member states as well as at global level, MEPs underlined. The EU has a responsibility for the rest of the world and must ensure vaccines are fairly distributed across the globe, they added, reiterating that “nobody is safe until everybody is safe”.

Members acknowledged that the EU underestimated the challenges of vaccine mass production and that concrete measures to ramp up production must now be taken as a matter of utmost priority. Many MEPs urged the Commission to enforce existing contracts and at the same time support member states in their vaccine deployment strategies.

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In order to build citizens’ trust in the vaccination efforts and avoid disinformation, the EU must “tell the truth”, some MEPs pointed out. In this respect, many recalled the need for transparency with regard to contracts, as well as for comprehensive and clear data on vaccines rollout at national level.

Taking into account the large amounts of public money invested, several MEPs also called for increased parliamentary scrutiny of the implementation of the vaccines strategy.

Watch the video recording of the debate here. Click on the names below for individual statements.

Ana Paula Zacarias, Portuguese Presidency

Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President (1st part2nd part3rd part)

Manfred Weber (EPP, DE)

Iratxe García Pérez (S&D, ES)

Dacian Cioloş (Renew Europe, RO)

Marco Zanni (ID, IT)

Ska Keller (Greens/EFA, DE)

Beata Szydło (ECR, PL)

Manon Aubry (The Left, FR)

Background

On 12 January 2021, MEPs quizzed the Commission on the latest developments regarding COVID-19 vaccines. A debate in plenary followed on 19 January focusing on the global EU strategy for COVID-19, while the Commission published an updated action plan to step up the fight against the pandemic on the same day.

During the plenary debate in January, MEPs expressed broad support for the common EU approach to fighting the pandemic and called for complete transparency regarding contracts and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines.

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EU envoy says Russia delays EMA Sputnik V vaccine inspections - media

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A health-care worker prepares a dose of Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a vaccination centre in Gostiny Dvor in Moscow, Russia July 6, 2021. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva/File Photo

Russia has repeatedly delayed inspections by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) necessary for the certification of its Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine in the European Union, the EU's ambassador to Moscow was quoted as saying on Friday (8 October), Reuters, write Olzhas Auyezov, Anton Zverev and Andrew Osborn in Moscow and Jo Mason in London.

The Sputnik V vaccine, widely used in Russia and approved for use in more than 70 countries, is undergoing a review by the World Health Organization and the EMA.

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Russia has accused the West of refusing to certify its flagship vaccine for political reasons. Without EMA approval, it is harder for Russians to travel throughout the EU.

"This is a technical rather than a political process," EU ambassador Markus Ederer told Russia's RBC media outlet in an interview.

"When Russian officials talk about the process being delayed and politicised by the European side, I sometimes think they are largely referring to themselves because it is them who makes this about politics."

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Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), markets Sputnik V overseas. It declined to comment.

The EMA said it could not immediately comment on the matter.

Five people with knowledge of European efforts to assess the drug told Reuters earlier this year that the developers of Sputnik V had repeatedly failed to provide data that regulators deem to be standard requirements of the drug approval process. read more

RDIF said at the time that Reuters’ reporting contained “false and inaccurate statements” based on anonymous sources who were attempting to harm Sputnik V as part of a disinformation campaign.

Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said this month that all the barriers to register Sputnik V with the WHO had been cleared and that only some paperwork remained to be completed. read more

The TASS news agency cited the health ministry as saying on Friday that EMA inspectors might carry out a visit to Russia in December.

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