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Parliamentary questions
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27 June 2020
Answer given by Mr Gentiloni
on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-002619/2020

As part of its strategy to respond forcefully and in a coordinated manner to the COVID-19 pandemic, the general escape clause of the Stability and Growth Pact was activated in March 2020. It allows Member States to undertake measures to deal adequately with the crisis, while departing from the budgetary requirements that would normally apply under the EU fiscal rules.

Specifically, Member States can take targeted measures to deal with the health crisis and provide support for those affected by the outbreak, including the most vulnerable groups, as well as broader measures to support the economy, provided that medium-term fiscal sustainability is not endangered.

On 19 May 2020, based on the legislative proposal from the Commission, the Council adopted the regulation on the establishment of a European instrument for Temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE)(1).

The new instrument will allow for up to EUR 100 billion loans in support of Member States’ short-time work schemes and similar measures to protect employees and self-employed. These measures provide income replacement to vulnerable workers not covered by the ‘traditional’ short-time work scheme, such as the self-employed.

The SURE will become operational as soon as all Member States voluntarily provide credible, irrevocable and callable guarantees to the Union, on the basis of bilateral agreements between the Commission and all the contributing Member States.

In addition, the Commission adopted a small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) Strategy in March 2020 to support all kinds of small businesses and is prioritising (and refocusing where necessary) certain key actions to help them during the COVID-19 crisis. In order to support the emergency liquidity needs of SMEs, the Commission also boosted the COSME (Europe’s programme for small and medium-sized enterprises) Loan Guarantee Facility.

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