Our citizens are depending on us to rise to the occasion during this challenging time. We must not let them down. Together we must strive to secure employment, protect workers and avoid redundancies.
What we are facing today is a global emergency, one that is characterised not only by its medical ramifications, but also by its social and economic ones.
EU solidarity is being tested. But as we have collectively done in the past, we will rise to the challenge once more.
There are a number of initiatives when it comes to funding that the EU has made available and that member states must now tap into.
Throughout the month of April, we voted on measures to mobilize existing funds. This was done primarily through the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, which allows unspent funds in the EU’s budget to be made available to member states, including Malta, to be used immediately.
Malta has been given access to close to €50 million that can be used to support workers and self-employed workers, help firms invest in technology to shift to teleworking systems, pay healthcare workers and purchase medical equipment. These are just a few examples of what we can do to alleviate the economic stress on companies – especially SMEs – who are not necessarily prepared for such a financial shock when comapred to larger and more liquid corporations.
Moreover, the SURE mechanism is one which will support short-term work schemes aimed a keeping people in employment. This new instrument, which is being discussed at Council level right now, will help protect jobs and workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. It will provide financial assistance in the form of loans granted on favourable terms from the EU to Member States.
This would allow member states Malta to provide assistance to workers that have been left out of government’s current scheme, such as real estate agents and other sectors.
I am hopeful that this scheme can become a reality i nthe coming days. Whilst it is largely dependant on member states, I believe that together we can make this a reality as soon as possible.
Lastly, as the European Parliament’s lead negotiator on the ESF+ (European Social Fund Plus) my priority is to ensure that there is no delay in accessing these funds which serve as the main tool to address employment and social issues. We must make it possible for these funds to get to where they are most needed as efficiently as possible.
I would like to end this piece by thanking all essential workers. Doctors and healthcare workers – but also those who work in groceries, super markets and pharmacies among others – for their service to the community. They place themselves at great personal risk for the common good.
We are on the way back to normality, slowly but surely. But one thing is for sure.
Together, we will get through this and emerge a stronger Europe.
PPE MEP & QUAESTOR FOR THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT