Six EU countries get 13 bln euros in loans to preserve employment amid pandemic

The European Commission disbursed 13 billion euros to six new European Union (EU) member states under the SURE (Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency) program, said a spokesperson on Tuesday.

The Czech Republic has received 1 billion euros, Belgium 2.2 billion, Spain 4.06 billion, Ireland 2.47 billion, Italy 1.87 billion and Poland 1.4 billion euros, according to Balazs Ujvari, the European Commission spokesperson for budget and human resources, humanitarian aid and crisis management.

It is the sixth disbursement of the program so far, and the third one in 2021.

“The crisis is tough on many workers, who fear for their jobs. This is why we have created SURE, to mobilise 100 billion euros in loans to finance short-time work schemes across the EU,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Designed to cushion the economic repercussions of COVID-19 related lockdowns and shutdowns, the instrument allows the bloc to transition towards recovery more easily by letting EU countries borrow money at preferential rate directly from the bloc instead of traditional markets.

This allows member states to save money in their bid to preserve employment. Member states that benefitted from SURE saved an estimated 5.8 billion euros.

“We have already delivered three-fourths of the money committed for the SURE program. Additional money will follow soon in the second quarter,” said Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Budget and Administration.

Seventeen EU member states have already benefitted from the SURE program, with a total of 75.5 billion euros in loans. Nineteen member states should receive financial support under the program.

The SURE program was proposed in April last year by the Commission, adopted by the EU heads of state in May, and made available in September. (1 euro = around 1.17 U.S. dollars)