What can the EU's short time work scheme achieve?
The EU Commission has announced the introduction of a short time work scheme aimed at enabling companies that have had to discontinue or reduce their production because of the coronavirus crisis to continue to employ their workers. The Commission plans to take out 100 billion in loans to finance the measure. Not all media are convinced that this is a genuine display of solidarity.
Corona bonds by another name
The taz is thrilled with the concept of European short-time work allowances:
“To avoid misunderstandings: countries would not receive the money as a gift. The EU Commission would simply be lending them the funds at a very favourable interest rate. ... The scheme would also have the advantage of applying to the whole EU, and not just to the Eurozone. Bulgaria or Romania could also receive support if they're overwhelmed by the costs of the corona crisis. The scheme would be financed by EU bonds. So to all intents and purposes it would amount to corona bonds, but corona bonds that cannot be called that by name.”
A taste of what more cooperation can achieve
Avvenire also praises the EU Commission's move:
“The announcement could be the start of a turnaround that would allow us to bring together the best of both worlds. ... Namely to combine our highly developed protection models [such as the European Stability Mechanism] in a timely way with our macro-economic intervention capacity, so as to fully exploit the potential for cooperation between member states. The states may then even develop a taste for such measures, and recognise that investments, infrastructural modernisation and health and education projects can all be financed on a supranational basis by issuing bonds with a very low risk premium which are particularly attractive to investors.”
EU's credibility crisis getting worse by the day
This is not the way for the EU to improve its image, the Romanian service of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle fears:
“Corona bonds and debt mutualisation remain on the drawing board because the rich EU northern states refuse to go along with them. The 100 billion euros in loans from the Sure scheme which the EU now intends to make available to support short-time work programmes won't do anything to improve the lamentable impression left by the EU. ... Particularly the southern states that are extremely affected by the pandemic are under the impression that the EU is an institution that guarantees and increases the prosperity of the northern members only. The old credibility crisis is growing exponentially, as is the number of cases of the deadly coronavirus.”