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EU states can soon apply for funding to help workers facing shorter hours during the coronavirus pandemic. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen's SURE plan is intended to prevent large-scale layoffs.
On Thursday, the European Union announced a funding plan to help member states subsidize workers' wages during the coronavirus health emergency.
European Commission 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 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 that the money can reach those that need it as quickly as possible, von der Leyen said.
An internal paper shared before Thursday's announcement suggested that the plan 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
In addition to the huge pressure on health care systems from large numbers of seriously ill coronavirus patients, EU member states are also struggling with how to prevent mass unemployment and business bankruptcies as a result of the restrictions imposed to stem the pandemic.
Eurozone finance ministers will meet on Tuesday to agree on activating a €200 billion bailout fund to help ailing economies.
But officials from several member states say the 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 that the United States enacted to help European countries 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."
mm/rt (AFP, dpa)