Farmer supports promised as EU launches €100 billion SURE instrument

The European Commission has pledged to mobilise all of its resources to protect lives and livelihoods as Covid-19 continues to devastate the EU.

In a statement today, Thursday, April 2, the commission said it is further increasing its response by proposing to set up a €100 billion solidarity instrument to help workers keep their incomes and help businesses stay afloat, called SURE.

It is also proposing to redirect all available structural funds to the response to the coronavirus.

Farmers and fishermen will also receive support, as will the most deprived, the commission’s statement said. All of these measures are based on the current EU budget and will squeeze out every available euro.

“They show the need for a strong and flexible long-term EU budget. The commission will work to ensure that the EU can count on such a strong budget to get back on its feet and progress on the path to recovery,” the statement added.

SURE

The commission says that SURE is “a new instrument that will provide up to €100 billion in loans to countries that need it to ensure that workers receive an income and businesses keep their staff”.

“This allows people to continue to pay their rent, bills and food shopping and helps provide much needed stability to the economy,” it was added.

The loans will be based on guarantees provided by member states and will be directed to where they are most urgently needed.

All member states will be able to make use of this but it will be of particular importance to the hardest-hit.

EU farm support measures

“Europe’s farming and fisheries have an essential role in providing us with the food we eat. They are hard hit by the crisis, in turn hitting our food supply chains and the local economies that the sector sustains.

The commission said it will “shortly propose a range of measures to ensure that farmers and other beneficiaries can get the support they need from the Common Agricultural Policy”.

The statement gave examples of this including:
  • Granting more time to introduce applications for support and more time to allow administrations to process them;
  • Increasing advances for direct payments and rural development payments; and
  • Offering additional flexibility for on-the-spot checks to minimise the need for physical contact and reduce administrative burden.

Meanwhile, to assist the most deprived, the commission also said: “The Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived will evolve to meet the challenge: In particular, the use of electronic vouchers to reduce the risk of contamination will be introduced, as well as the possibility of buying protective equipment for those delivering the aid.”

Emergency Support Instrument

Other elements of the scheme include the redirection of all uncommitted money from the three Cohesion Policy funds to fight the emergency, and the allocation of €3 billion for the Emergency Support Instrument.

Of this, €300 million will be used for RescEU to support the common stockpile of equipment.

The first priority would be managing the public health crisis and securing vital equipment and supplies, from ventilators to personal protective gear, from mobile medical teams to medical assistance for the most vulnerable, including those in refugee camps.

The second area of focus would be on enabling the scaling up of testing efforts. The proposal would also enable the commission to procure directly on behalf of the member states.

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