Leading the EU out of economic insecurity requires swift implementation of these measures. But with the euro area economy expected to contract by at least 7% this year due to the ripple effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the EU must also pursue a sustainable and inclusive growth strategy geared towards the strategic long-term strength of the Union.

With this in mind, Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU will:

  • Advocate that Europe’s transition to a green (Green Deal) and digital economy plays a central role in the continent’s economic recovery
  • Support the rapid implementation of a temporary “Recovery and Resilience Facility” together with the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the EU’s long-term budget for 2021-2027
  • Advocate that the next MFF becomes a regenerative programme for Europe through future-oriented investments

Protecting businesses

From small corner stores to multinational conglomerates, emergency measures enacted to halt the coronavirus pandemic have left no European business unaffected. Companies have sustained massive losses without the ability to normally produce goods or supply services during the pandemic.

The health of European businesses will play a critical role in the continent’s economic recovery. They require funds to ensure they can reopen as soon as possible, as well as measures to boost their economic potential and resilience.

As such, Germany’s Council Presidency will seek to coordinate the EU’s efforts to:

  • Support firms affected by the crisis, with both financial and regulatory measures, to strengthen pan-European supply chains within the Single Market
  • Strengthen trade and investments within the Single Market on the basis of international norms, rules and conventions, and strengthen industrial value chains
  • Review state aid guidelines to speed up the green and digital transition and if necessary adjust the Temporary Framework in order to allow governments to provide direct assistance to companies in need, thereby ensuring a level playing field during the recovery period
  • Promote the EU Structural Funds to cushion the blow of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe’s hardest-hit regions

Protecting citizens

Across global supply chains, informal workers and healthcare professionals are on the frontlines of the pandemic, yet they often face less secure employment without social safety nets. This underscores the need for socially responsible and sustainable labour policies, both during the crisis and in the recovery period.

The European instrument for temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE) is an important part of Europe’s answer to these challenges. The new, €100-billion instrument provides member states with the funds they need to support workers, even when their hours have been reduced.

Beyond SURE, Germany’s Presidency will pursue the following measures to protect workers, uplift vulnerable groups and create sustainable supply chains:

  • We are committed to the development of an EU framework for national minimum wages that strengthens the protection of employees as well as the social partnership and its prominent role in shaping working conditions, and which supports income stabilisation also in times of crisis. We will discuss the upcoming Commission proposal for such an instrument in the Council in this regard.
  • National minimum guaranteed income benefits in the Member States play an important role with respect to enabling those in need to participate in society and the labour market. We want to develop a framework for national minimum security systems in the EU Member States.
  • We want to work together with the European Commission and our EU partners to tackle unemployment and youth unemployment in the EU head on on the basis of a European Social Fund Plus that is capable of taking action.
  • We advocate for a new EU action plan to strengthen corporate social responsibility in global supply chains that promotes human rights, social and environmental standards and transparency.