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The EU’s comprehensive strategy for the COVID-19 pandemic: SURE

In April 2020, the European Commission proposed the SURE (Support to mitigate unemployment risks in an emergency) Regulation, as part of the European Union’s response to COVID-19. On September 2020, all Member States signed the guarantee agreements and the first payment was completed at the end of October 2020.

The €100 billion European instrument temporarily supports the mitigation of unemployment risks in case of an emergency in connection with the COVID-19 outbreak and responses to its socio‐economic consequences for the Member States that are in economic disturbance, or in a seriously threatened situation. The SURE primarily provides financial assistance for short-time work schemes form or similar measures which protect employees and self‐employed persons, and reduce the incidence of unemployment and loss of income, in the form of loans granted on favourable terms to Member States to finance national short-time work schemes, preserve jobs and support incomes and some health-related measures.

In September 2021 the European Commission published its second report on the impact of SURE. In 2020, the instrument supported to reduce unemployment by approx. 1.5 million people and has helped to effectively contain the increase in unemployment in the beneficiary Member States during the pandemic crisis. Despite the larger GDP fall, the increase in unemployment has turned out to be significantly lower than during the global financial crisis. In 2020, SURE supported approx. 31 million people (22.5 million employees and 8.5 million self-employed), while 2.5 million firms have benefitted from SURE, which allowed them to retain workers.

A total of €94.3 billion of financial support has been approved to 19 Member States, from which €89.6 billion has been paid. SURE can still provide almost €6 billion of financial support to Member States out of the total €100 billion.