PES EPSCO: EU must activate unemployment scheme as soon as possible


PES EPSCO meeting

Members of the PES EPSCO taking part in the videoconference

Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (known as SURE) must be activated as soon as possible, this was the conclusion of the PES Employment and Social Affairs Ministers videoconference meeting today.

The PES ministers said SURE must be the basis for a proper European unemployment benefit reinsurance, so swift support is always available in times of crisis.

Meeting Chair and Portuguese Minister for Labour, Solidarity and Social Security, Ana Mendes Godinho, said:

"Thanks to the initiative of PES Commissioners Paolo Gentiloni and Nicolas Schmit, the European Commission has a proposal for a new instrument to support workers during the coronavirus crisis.

“Socialists and democrats are fighting to make sure people, families and communities are protected and supported. We need to be able to focus economic and employment incentives on keeping jobs. That is why we are calling for the SURE to be put to use as soon as possible, as one component of a recovery plan to overcome COVID-19. SURE must serve as a base for a proper European unemployment benefit reinsurance, so swift support is always available in times of crisis.

“We can not wait for June to have our next EPSCO Council. It is urgent that all employment Minister meet and do their utmost to make European support quickly available to workers hit by the coronavirus crisis.

“COVID-19 is a strong reminder of the need for increased solidarity inside our societies, and between our member states. It is a test put to the EU, on its capacity to make solidarity tangible. We need stronger European coordination, and stronger welfare states to make this solidarity effective.”

The SURE will help member states to cover the costs related to short-time work schemes for employees, and similar measures for the self-employed.

European unemployment benefit reinsurance was a demand in the PES 2019 European elections manifesto. It was put on the Commission’s agenda after progressives successfully lobbied for its inclusion in the Commission Work Programme. The PES has consistently backed the measure as a response to the COVID-19 crisis, most recently in a joint statement to the Eurogroup and a letter to leaders of PES member parties.

The PES EPSCO ministerial was chaired for the first time today by Ana Mendes Godinho. She paid tribute to outgoing chair, Timo Harakka from Finland, who was appointed to a new ministerial role late last year.

The meeting was attended by:

  • Ana Mendes Godinho, Chair, Minister for Labour, Solidarity and Social Security, Portugal
  • Owen Bonnici, Minister for Education & Employment, Malta
  • Ville Kopra, Secretary of State to the Minister of Employment, Finland
  • Eva Nordmark, Minister for Employment, Sweden
  • Francesca Puglisi, Deputy Minister of Labour, Italy
  • Rolf Schmachtenberg, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Germany
  • Romain Schneider, Minister of Social Security, Luxembourg
  • Martina Štěpánková, State Secretary, Czech Republic
  • Santina Bertulessi, Deputy Head of Cabinet, European Commissioner Nicolas Schmit
  • Luca Visentini, General Secretary, ETUC
  • Liina Carr, Confederal Secretary, ETUC
  • Agnes Jongerius MEP, EMPL Coordinator, S&D group in the European Parliament
  • Yonnec Polet, Deputy Secretary General, PES