"Europe should learn more to anticipate and move forward on social issues."
Sylvie Brunet, MoDem Member of the European Parliament, Vice-President of the Renew Europe Group and member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, explains the SURE instrument proposed by the European Commission.
What is SURE's objective?
It is common knowledge that the current coronavirus crisis is having an extremely negative socio-economic impact. At the moment, the devastation is enormous, and a very large number of European companies and workers are being forced to reduce or even suspend their activities. The "SURE" (Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in Europe) instrument proposed by the European Commission aims to provide financial assistance to Member States that have introduced short-time working schemes or similar measures for the self-employed in the context of this crisis. They have rightly done so: it is crucial to avoid redundancies, to support the incomes of workers and the self-employed, to protect jobs and skills during the crisis and to enable as many people as possible to return to work afterwards: we are seeking to prevent this violent but temporary shock from having devastating longer-term consequences for the economy and the labour market in the Member States./p>
In very concrete terms, the financial assistance will take the form of a European Union loan, which will be granted on very favourable terms to the Member States affected who will have applied to the Commission. This will enable them to finance part of the sudden increase in public expenditure to safeguard employment. The total amount of loans available will be €100 billion.
Who will decide to grant European aid to a Member State and how will it work?
This instrument is a real proof of solidarity in the European Union and between Member States. It will be supported by a system of mutual guarantees provided by the Member States for 25% of the loans granted. It will therefore be effective once it has been adopted by the Council and after all the Member States have undertaken to provide the European Union with their guarantee.
>In procedural terms, a Member State will be able to apply for financial assistance if its actual or planned public expenditure has risen suddenly and sharply in order to set up short-time working schemes or similar measures for the self-employed. Once the request has been addressed to the European Commission, the latter will verify the nature and extent of the increase in public expenditure before proposing to the Council a proposal for a decision defining the terms of the loan, its amount and the instalments to be paid. Once approved by the Council by qualified majority, this financial assistance will be proposed to the Member State on favourable terms.
This instrument is temporary and linked to the Covid-19 crisis. Is a permanent instrument not desirable?
Indeed, SURE is temporary and its scope is limited to the fight against the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
Personally, in order to be able to respond more quickly and effectively in the event of a new crisis in the future, and to gradually create a safety net linked to employment in Europe, I believe it is essential for the European Union to equip itself with a similar instrument of a lasting nature. This is what the European Commission has committed itself to by announcing that it will speed up the preparation of its legislative proposal for a European unemployment reinsurance scheme. In the event of a future large shock, such a scheme would reduce the pressure on national public finances, support national policies aimed at preserving jobs and skills and facilitate the transition of unemployed people from one job to another.
Europe should learn more to anticipate and move forward on social issues. We cannot constantly rely on crises to remind us of the need for solidarity between us. This seems obvious to me, yet several "reluctant" states are fiercely opposed to the introduction of long-term solidarity instruments. I regret this and will continue to fight all the more.