EU pledges €100 billion scheme for workers facing pay cuts
The European Union on Thursday announced a funding scheme for EU states to help them subsidize workers' wages during the coronavirus health emergency.
European Commisision President Ursula von der Leyen said the Support to Mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE) plan would have a €100 billion ($109 billion) budget, on the proviso that states stump up a quarter of the cash.
"In this coronavirus crisis, only the strongest solutions will be enough," she told a news conference in Brussels. "We have to use every means available."
The German politician said every euro available in the EU budget must be activated to help stem the economic shock created by the coronavirus pandemic.
All EU budget rules will be relaxed so the money can reach those that need it as quickly as possible, von der Leyen added.
An internal paper shared before Thursday's announcement suggested that the scheme would be supported by a system of guarantees by EU member states, allowing the €100 billion to be raised on the credit markets.
Counting the cost
EU countries are struggling not only to deal with the huge pressure on healthcare systems from seriously ill coronavirus patients, but also how to prevent mass unemployment and business bankruptcies as a result of the severe restrictions imposed to stem the pandemic.
Eurozone finance ministers will meet next Tuesday to agree on activating a €200 billion bailout fund to help ailing economies.
But several states say the so-called European Stability Mechanism doesn't go far enough.
During Thursday's news conference Von der Leyen added that the EU;s next long-term budget should emulate the huge economic recovery package the United States enacted to Europe after World War II.
"Many are calling right now for something which is called the Marshall Plan," she said. "Well, I think the European budget should be the Marshall Plan we're laying out together as a European Union for the European people."