Brussels gives green light to Portugal for €5.9 billion in employment support

The first sign of the EU ‘funding bazooka’ designed to help Portugal through the after-effects of the pandemic was announced today, in the form of €5.9 billion by way of employment support.

The money will be going on financing the simplified lay-off scheme, without which the number of the country’s jobless – increasing all the time – would undoubtedly skyrocket.

The cash injection will be coming out of the SURE instrument – aimed at staving off unemployment in 16 Member States.

Bizarrely, SURE’s ambit was published yesterday with Portugal ‘not on the list’ (click here).

That now has changed, with the total SURE outlay rising from €81.4 billion to €87.3 billion.

According to a statement coming from the European Commission, the support will come in the “form of loans granted on favourable terms from the EU to Member States” to help countries “cover the costs directly related to the financing of national short-time work schemes and other similar measures they have put in place as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, in particular for the self employed”.

Said European Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen: “We must do everything in our power to preserve jobs and livelihoods… SURE is a clear symbol of solidarity in the face of an unprecedented crisis. Europe is committed to protecting citizens”.

The next step – before any money can be made available – is for the European Council to approve the proposal.

None of the texts so far published today give any indication when that may be.

Other countries receiving these ‘loans on favourable terms’ are Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Greece, Spain, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.