Ireland not getting a slice of EU’s €81.4bn Covid payments pie

State has not yet applied for loan due to lengthy delay in forming a Government

Under the European Commission’s SURE initiative, €100 billion in cheap loans are being made available to member states to continue wage subsidy schemes.  Photograph: iStock

Under the European Commission’s SURE initiative, €100 billion in cheap loans are being made available to member states to continue wage subsidy schemes. Photograph: iStock

 

Ireland is not among the 15 EU countries to receive €81.4 billion in loans to help them continue state schemes to protect employment.

Most countries around Europe have introduced measures similar to Ireland’s wage subsidy scheme, under which the Government temporarily pays part of an employee’s wages to prevent businesses from making layoffs.

Under the European Commission’s SURE initiative, €100 billion in cheap loans are being made available to member states to continue such schemes, and help governments deal with the sudden increase in public spending they cause.

On Monday, the commission announced proposals to provide €81.4 billion to 15 member states under the SURE programme. Italy is in line for €27.4 billion, Spain €21.3 billion, Poland €11.2 billion, and Belgium €7.8 billion.

Portugal is expected to receive about €6 billion, leaving little remaining in the pot of €100 billion for the 10 member states that have not yet applied, including Ireland.

The Irish Times understands that the Government may yet put in an application, but that the process has been delayed because it requires approval in the Dáil. This was held back by the length of time it took to form the Government.

Borrow

In addition, the Government is not too concerned about availability of funding, because it can still borrow cheaply on international markets.

The SURE scheme was first proposed in April, and agreed by member states in May.

The commission argues that initiatives to prevent layoffs are vital to help businesses ride out the economic damage of the pandemic without going under, and help individuals keep spending, and will ultimately lessen the depth and length of the recession.

“Short-time work schemes have played a key role in cushioning the impact on jobs of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said economy commissioner Paolo Gentiloni as the loans were announced.

“SURE is the European Union’s contribution to these essential safety nets. It will help to protect workers against unemployment and preserve the jobs and skills that we will need as our economies recover.”

The €81.4 billion must be finalised by approval by national leaders in the European Council before the loans are released.

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