European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the first tranche of funds from the SURE programme, amounting to some 120 million euro, will be made available to Malta as from today.
The temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE) is available for Member States that need to mobilise significant financial means to fight the negative economic and social consequences of the coronavirus outbreak on their territory. The second tranche, equivalent to the same amount, will be made available “soon”, according to Von der Leyen.
Speaking on the national broadcaster yesterday evening, the President explained that the scope of these funds is to ensure that jobs are safeguarded by supporting healthy companies in keeping their staff on their books despite a drop in activity.
This will ensure that when the economy starts to pick up again, these companies are able to drive the recovery forward. “These funds are therefore a bridge to a better time”, she said.
Von der Leyen also referred to the NextGenerationEU initiative, which is a temporary instrument designed to boost the recovery, the largest stimulus package ever financed through the EU budget. She highlighted some of the key areas targeted through these funds, notably the digital sector and the Green Deal.
The head of the EU’s executive also touched the issue of Covid-19 vaccines, where she appealed for patience. Toning down optimism, Von der Leyen insisted that these are hard times: “we are in a deep crisis, in the virus’ second wave, but this patience will pay off”. She also announced that the EU will today sign a fifth contract for a potential vaccine, explaining that EU officials were hard at work to prepare plans and infrastructures to ensure that everybody can be vaccinated”.
She concluded by saying Malta will have access to the vaccine on a pro-rata basis, on the same conditions and at the same time of its European peers.