EPSCO: Personal presence suspended, European Ministers analyze by videoconference their positions and plans for the reallocation of EU funds in the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative
- EPSCO Council in Brussels
- The common position of the Autonomous Communities, "A Strong Social Europe for Fair Transitions", referring to employment policies and social affairs, agreed and coordinated by Euskadi, will be discussed in future meetings
- Temporary Framework of the European Commission: five types of aid: 1) direct subsidies, selective tax advantages and advance payments; 2) state guarantees for loans contracted by bank companies; 3) public subsidies to companies; 4) safeguards for banks channeling state aid to the real economy, and 5) short-term credit insurance for exports
Brussels 2020 03 19
Today, an "informal" Council of European Ministers of Employment and Social Affairs-EPSCO has been developed through a video conference. The Ministers have debated the social and labor consequences of COVID-19. Josip Aladrović, Minister of Labor and Pension System, and Vesna Bedeković, Minister jointly chaired the video conference for Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy of Croatia, with the participation of the Vice President of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, and the Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit.
Regarding the possible reallocation of EU funds under the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, the Ministers shared experiences on implemented and planned measures to mitigate the social and employment consequences of COVID-19. They have also discussed social protection and welfare measures that could reduce the negative effects of the crisis. Participants in the video conference have presented their positions and plans for a possible reallocation of EU funds, taking into account the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative.
As detailed in the videoconference, several Member States have already taken far-reaching measures to limit the spread of the virus through social distancing. In many countries, schools, universities, cultural institutions, restaurants and bars are temporarily closed.
The ministers have shown the impact of this situation on Small and Medium-sized enterprises. "The European economy is significantly affected, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, self-employed people and employees in non-standard forms of occupation. All these changes, with the health and other consequences of the spread of COVID-19, have a significant impact on our citizens".
The videoconference highlighted "the importance of protecting all EU citizens, especially the most vulnerable and severely affected by the crisis. It is necessary, among other things, to allow working parents to find suitable childcare solutions. Furthermore, older people, a particularly vulnerable group, must receive adequate help and protection”. The Basque Country participates this semester in the Council, through Minister Mrs. Beatriz Artolazabal, representing the 17 autonomies of the Spanish state.
The “Common Position” of the Autonomous Communities of the State, included within the item “A Strong Social Europe for Fair Transitions”, referring to employment policies and social affairs and that has a general consensus, promoted and coordinated by Euskadi, will be discussed at upcoming EPSCO meetings.
EC Time Frame
For its part, the European Commission has adopted a period for Member States to use the full flexibility provided for in state aid rules to support the economy in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak. Along with many other support measures that Member States can use under existing state aid rules, the period allows Member States to ensure that companies of all kinds have sufficient liquidity and preserve the continuity of the economic activity during and after the COVID-19 outbreak.
Executive Vice President, Margrethe Vestager, responsible for competition policy, has indicated: “the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak is severe. We have to act quickly to manage it as much as possible; and we must act in a coordinated way. This new period allows Member States to fully utilize the flexibility provided by state aid rules to support the economy in these difficult times".
The period of state aid to support the economy in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak recognizes that the entire EU economy is in serious disturbance. To remedy this situation, the period establishes five types of aid: 1) direct subsidies, selective tax advantages and advance payments; 2) state guarantees for loans contracted by bank companies; 3) public subsidies to companies; 4) safeguards for banks that channel state aid to the real economy and 5) short-term credit insurance for exports. The framework will apply until the end of December 2020.