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The EU Commission has adopted a €37 billion Coronavirus Response Investment initiative to support the European healthcare system, the labour market and SMEs from all sectors.
Speaking during a press conference on March 13, Ursula von den Leyen, President, EU Commission, said the EU budget would also seek to support SMEs with cash, complementing measures already taken at national level. Apart from supplying materials and support to hospitals, and financing research to develop a vaccine as soon as possible, other commitments include protecting jobs, businesses and the economy, with a certain degree of austerity; countries are authorised to spend everything that is necessary to guarantee support for employees, self-employed workers, businesses, and banks. In addition to the commitments made by member states, at least €37 billion euros is ready and available from the Union budget.
“It is important to emphasise that governments will be able to use all the flexibility provided for in the Stability and Growth Pact, and that state aid will be allowed for sectors and businesses affected by the crisis”, said the European Parliament in a statement. “The measures announced today deal with the situation of today. This is an important economic package, but we have to acknowledge that the situation is evolving very fast. We stand ready to do more as the situation evolves. We will do whatever is necessary to support Europeans and the European economy”, said von der Leyen, citing the example of the European Investment Fund, which is to guarantee €8 billion in loans for 100,000 SMEs.