What was the statement of the European social partners of the ETUC, BusinessEurope, CEEP, SME united on the COVID-19 crisis?
European employers and trade unions expressed sympathy for the families of those who lost loved ones due to the COVID-19 epidemic. At the same time, they expressed their gratitude to employees and entrepreneurs who show exceptional courage and resilience, both in treating the sick and maintaining access to basic goods and services.
European social partners endorsed the set of measures announced by the European Commission on March 13 and the European Central Bank and ensured that they are in close contact with the Commission to help ensure their swift and effective implementation, and to support the national actions that have been and will be discussed by national social partners and national governments.
The social partners called on governments to approve, in particular, measures to:
Temporarily making full use of the flexibility built into the objectives of the Stability and Growth Pact, including consideration of a temporary suspension through the use of a general escape clause;
- Avoiding disturbances to the single market, including export bans and restrictions, in particular for the export of medical equipment and medicines, and no more border closures to goods; protecting all modes of freight transport is a priority in the EU, and plays a vital role in coordinating and communicating on actions in the Member States;
- encouraging spending and investment by Member States, in particular to strengthen staff, equipment and resources for national health services, social protection systems and other services of general interest;
- mobilizing unused Structural and other EU funds to assist Member States in providing financial and income support to workers affected by unemployment or suspension, including non-standard workers and the self-employed;
- ensuring access to credit and financial support for businesses, especially all types of SMEs, affected by the closure and emergency measures, with coordinated intervention from the EU budget, the ECB, the EIB and national supporting banks;
- the mobilization of the Solidarity Fund in response to natural disasters and any other resources available at EU level;
- The efforts of the European Commission to introduce full flexibility to state aid rules should also be recognized.
Member States should involve national social partners in the design and implementation of national measures.