PES welcomes efforts by progressive EU Commissioners to establish EU unemployment scheme

01/04/2020 - Paolo Gentiloni and Nicolas Schmit doing enormous job to support workers all over Europe in the COVID-19 crisis

PES President Sergei Stanishev with European Commissioners Helena Dalli and Nicolas Schmit 

File photo of PES President Sergei Stanishev (L) with European Commissioners Helena Dalli and Nicolas Schmit at a working meeting with Commissioners from the PES family.

European socialists and democrats are backing efforts by European commissioners Paolo Gentiloni and Nicolas Schmit to introduce a European Unemployment Reinsurance Scheme. The progressive proposals must be implemented as soon as possible, the Party of European Socialists said today.

Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni

Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, at a PES leaders' meeting in Brussels

Gentiloni - the commissioner leading the work on the design of a European Unemployment Benefit Scheme - and Schmit - Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights - are successfully securing the future for European workers by proposing the scheme, which must now be implemented, the PES said.

The work builds on efforts by EU Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, who has pushed forward state-aid rule changes and the historic decision to suspend EU fiscal rules on public debt for member states. These measures have meant national governments can better support workers and people that lose their jobs because of COVID-19. Commissioner Nicolas Schmit, who is in charge of social and employment, focused his efforts on developing emergency unemployment mechanism in the light of COVID-19 crisis.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“The COVID-19 crisis has shown once again the value of European solidarity. Now it is time to turn that solidarity into concrete measures which transform the economic slowdown into a recovery.

“The EU can put solidarity into practise by playing a central role in guaranteeing citizens are supported if they lose their jobs. We are supporting the push by progressive commissioners, led by Paolo Gentiloni and Nicolas Schmit, for the urgent implementation of an unemployment reinsurance scheme. If sufficiently financed, it would be the natural tool to address the socioeconomic shock which member states are facing. It is a practical step which the EU can take to address the surging unemployment countries are experiencing because of COVID-19.

“This work adds to the huge efforts already being made by the progressive political family, including by Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni - who has been instrumental in securing fiscal room for member states who are battling to manage the coronavirus pandemic - and Commissioner Nicolas Schmit, whose efforts were focused on saving the jobs of every day Europeans.”

The PES reiterated its backing for an unemployment reinsurance scheme last month when it included the measure in both a joint letter to the Eurogroup and a letter to leaders of PES member parties.

European unemployment benefit reinsurance was a demand in the PES 2019 European elections manifesto. The topic was put on the Commission’s agenda after progressives successfully lobbied for its inclusion in the Commission Work Programme. It is now being taken forward by progressive Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit.

A European unemployment reinsurance scheme would protect workers when companies go under. Under the proposals, the EU would support member states facing a high rise in unemployment by providing financial support to their unemployment services. This support would cover part of the cost of unemployment benefits and ensure that all unemployed receive support.