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Remarks by President von der Leyen at the press conference on SURE; the Emergency Support Instrument; and on the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op donderdag 2 april 2020.

Good morning,

In the present circumstances, fighting to save peoples' lives, and to protect peoples' livelihoods, is the overriding mission of all public authorities across the European Union. And the Commission is doing just that. When Europe was freezing up with uncoordinated border closures and export bans, we acted to keep goods and key personnel moving to where they were needed. That was the most urgent task. And I think that things are improving right now.

In parallel, we moved to give the Member States all the breathing space they needed to provide the necessary oxygen to their economies, their businesses and their workers. So how did we do that? We put in place the most flexible state aid framework ever. It is unprecedented. And we triggered for the very first time the general escape clause. And this allowed a massive injection of liquidity into the European economy.

The ECB launched purchasing programmes, and the EIB provided a dedicated corona response to give loans to small and medium enterprises hit by the corona crisis. All of this has been done in record time and it helped keep the European economy on its feet.

But behind these big concepts are people. So today, besides liquidity and other support, we are introducing a new proposal to preserve the vibrant heart of the European economy and this is its skilled workforce.

The lockdown paralysed the demand and it paralysed the supply. Many companies are now left with no income and if we do nothing, they will have to lay off their workers, their employees. And this has as a consequence, when the engine will restart, when the world economy will restart, they will not have the skilled workforce they need to take the offers. So we will lose markets and this will limit our recovery. And this is why we introduced today SURE.

SURE is Europe-supported short-time work. It can mitigate the effects of the recession, it keeps people in work, it enables companies to return to the market with renewed vigour. The Commission will provide loans to those Member States that need them, to strengthen their short-time work schemes. These schemes now exist and are planned straight across the European Union. So SURE can benefit all Member States who want to use it. We can mobilise EUR 100 billion to do this. And this will be made possible thanks to Member States' guarantees of EUR 25 billion. And this, this is European solidarity in action.

The structural funds can also be of help here, to keep people in employment. We take out conditions to ease the access to European money. So full flexibility across regions, across priorities in every country. We recognise that Member States are already investing massively to deal with the corona crisis. And therefore, there is no reason to ask them for additional national funding. All of this will allow Member States to access all the remaining funding that they are entitled to, and this very quickly.

These are the central planks of today's proposals. We have also adopted other measures to help in particular fishermen and the most vulnerable in society. For these proposals to become reality, I count on Parliament and Council to act swiftly.

This huge package we have today is our second step in our response to the corona crisis. To date, the European Union, that is the European institutions and Member States, have mobilised EUR 2,770 billion. And this is the largest answer to a European crisis ever given. But we need to start preparing the long-term recovery. And this will take a lot of strength and a lot of breath. And there, the European budget, the so-called ‘MFF', is our strongest, it is our most important instrument. It is established, it is trusted by all Member States, and it is accepted as an outstanding tool of investment and convergence. So I think the next European budget, as a central pillar, will have to embody our response to the corona crisis.

Thank you.

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