Coronavirus and the path to recovery: what is SURE and what it provides for

Camilla Palla

Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency, better known as SURE, is the new labour support tool launched last May by the European Commission. It aims to mitigate impact on employment of the economic crisis generated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictive measures adopted by governments across Europe.

SURE is designed to provide financial assistance totalling 100 billion in the form of loans granted by the EU to Member States on favourable terms. More specifically, these funds would be aimed at covering the costs of setting up or extending short-time work schemes, while, at the same time, favouring companies and workers in difficulty. The former could reduce  employee working time, thus reducing company costs, and the the latter would be protected by a public income subsidy equal to total unworked hours.

“Short-time work schemes have played a key role in cushioning the impact on jobs of the COVID-19 pandemic”, said Paolo Gentiloni. “SURE will help to protect workers against unemployment and preserve the jobs and skills that we will need as our economies recover”, said the Commissioner for Economy.

In order to have access to SURE, Member States have to submit a formal request to the Commission, after which a phase of bilateral consultation between the Commission and the requesting State starts, to identify the level of intervention (impact on public expenditure) and the conditions of the loan (amount, length, technical specifications). Once these variables have been determined, the Commission formulates a proposal for a Decision to be submitted to the European Council for final approval.

Currently, 16 Member States, including Italy, are among the recipients of financial support under SURE. The Commission has therefore submitted proposals to the Council for the granting of financial support amounting to €87.3 billion. Hungary and Portugal have already submitted formal requests which are being assessed. Italy, for its part, started the procedure on  August 8, through a letter of request signed by the Minister of Economy Roberto Gualtieri and the Minister of Labour Nunzia Catalfo.

“SURE is a clear symbol of solidarity in the face of an unprecedented crisis”, said European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen. “We must do everything in our power to preserve jobs and livelihoods. Europe is committed to protecting citizens”.

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