Centeno on pandemic crisis support

…”Today, we have welcomed the initiative of the EIB to create a pan-European shield which aims to guarantee 200 billion euros of lending with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises. Again, this scheme is based on our collective financial strength at the national and European levels. Because we are stronger together. That is the safety net for firms” said the president of the Eurogroup Mario Centeno after the COVID-19 pandemic crisis meeting via telecommunication.

“Finally, the safety net is for member states. Today, we agreed to establish Pandemic Crisis Support for the amount of 2% of member states’ GDP. That is close to €240b. This is an important safeguard for all euro area countries during these times of crisis. It will be available to all ESM members, with standardised terms, on the basis of an up-front assessment by the European institutions.

Any euro area country requesting this support remains subject to the EU’s economic and fiscal co-ordination and surveillance frameworks. The only requirement to access the credit line will be that the country would commit to using these funds to support domestic financing of direct and indirect healthcare, cure and prevention related costs due to the COVID 19.

I should add that, my interpretation, as President, is that the average Euro Area Member State affected by the COVID-19 crisis should be able to identify expenditures directly or indirectly related to healthcare, cure and prevention amounting to 2% of GDP.

This agreement shows we have the political will and flexibility to take the instruments we created during the last crisis – in this case the ESM – and make them relevant and appropriate for the current crisis. We would strive to make this Pandemic Crisis Support operational within two weeks.

Those were the three new EU safety nets I wanted to talk about today. They add up to around half a trillion euros: a step-change in the economic coordination within our Union. This emergency plan will shield our economic and social fabric, as we dive into a recession.

When the health crisis abates, we will need to spur economic recovery. It is imperative that we grow together, and not apart, and that we protect the internal market in doing so”.

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