European leaders have approved the emergency package agreed last week by European Union (EU) Finance Ministers and it is expected to come into force by June 1st, Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa announced on Thursday evening.
“Not only have we approved it, but we have also indicated that it should all be in place by 1 June so that these resources are available to businesses and states” in response to the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
António Costa, who was speaking to the press in Lisbon after the European Council meeting by videoconference, stressed that the instruments they had approved aim to “ensure the capacity of all Member States to have financial resources to meet the expenses necessary to directly or indirectly combat, the pandemic” and said that these instruments “are not subject to any kind of conditions”.
The Finance Ministers agreed last week on an emergency package totalling 500 billion euros, consisting of three safety nets’.
A European Stability Facility (ESM) credit line, through which member states can claim up to 2% of their GDP for direct or indirect expenditure on health care, treatment and prevention of Covid-19, a pan-European guarantee fund from the European Investment Bank (EIB) for companies in difficulty, and the ‘Sure’ programme to safeguard jobs through temporary unemployment schemes.
Thursday’s European Council meeting also approved the European Commission’s guidelines for a strategy for lifting containment.
Costa said this had “a special focus” on coordination in the EU’s open borders strategy, “in particular internal borders”, “given the proximity of the traditional holiday period and the importance of the tourism sector for the European economy”.