"We must come out of the crisis united," says Olaf Scholz

Video conference of EU ministers of economic affairs and finance "We must come out of the crisis united," says Olaf Scholz

ECOFIN (the Economic and Financial Affairs Council) has met to discuss progress on steps taken by the EU to address the COVID-19 pandemic. It focused on the Franco-German initiative for European economic recovery. The Council also adopted emergency measures to protect jobs.

Press conference given by Olaf Scholz, Federal Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor and Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of Economy and Finance, before the video conference of economics and finance ministers on 19 May 2020

Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz at a joint press conference with his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire before the ECOFIN video conference

Photo: European Council / Screenshot

Recovery fund for Europe

At a video conference of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN), EU ministers of economic affairs and finance have discussed the latest progress of measures to tackle the pandemic. In particular they looked at the Franco-German initiative for a 500-billion-euro economic recovery fund for Europe. The Council welcomed the initiative proposed by Germany and France to foster economic recovery in Europe following the coronavirus epidemic. It supplements a package of economic assistance measures already agreed.

"This new 500 billion euro fund will enable us together to ensure that Europe comes out of the crisis united and that it recovers its strength," said Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz before the video conference. Earlier, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission issued a statement welcoming the constructive proposal made by France and Germany. "It acknowledges the scope and size of the economic challenge that Europe faces."

Emergency measure as of 1 June

ECOFIN also adopted the regulation for temporary support to mitigate unemployment risks in an emergency (SURE), to help finance national short-time work schemes so that workers retain an income and companies survive the crisis.

SURE is part of the 540 billion euro triple safety net for jobs and workers, businesses and member states agreed by the Eurogroup on 9 April 2020. The safety nets are to be operational as of 1 June. It is a major achievement that the European Union has agreed far faster on an initial 540 billion euro assistance package than twelve years ago in the face of the last financial crisis, stressed Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.

ECOFIN (the Economic and Financial Affairs Council) is responsible for EU policy in three main areas: economic policy, taxation issues and the regulation of financial services. It is made up of the economics and finance ministers from all EU member states. Relevant European Commissioners also participate in meetings.