EU Commission plans 81 billion in loans for short-time work schemes

Brussels - The European Commission has proposed a plan to divvy up 81 billion euros (96 billion dollars) in loans between 15 EU member states to help top up the wages of workers on reduced hours due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Billions of Euros for EU workers

The instrument was agreed by the 27 EU capitals earlier this year as part of efforts to keep their economies afloat and unemployment in check.

The EU's executive arm published its suggested allocations on Monday after member states submitted their requests, though these still need to be signed off by EU leaders.

By far the biggest recipients under the plan are Italy and Spain.

Rome, which initially charged fellow EU member states with leaving them in the lurch in the worst throes of the crisis, is in line for 27.4 billion euros, while Madrid would receive 21.3 billion.

Belgium, Poland and Romania are also among those that have asked for multi-billion-euro sums.

Part of the EU's recovery plan

Commission president Ursula von der Leyen hailed the plan as "a clear symbol of solidarity in the face of an unprecedented crisis" in a press release.

The instrument is one element of the European Union's recession recovery plan. The pandemic wiped out 11.7 per cent of the bloc's gross domestic product in the second quarter of this year alone.

The commission can provide up to 100 billion euros borrowed from financial markets, building on the EU budget and member state guarantees.

EU countries that have not yet submitted requests can still do so.

Emplyoment reinsurance schemes, which are designed to prevent lay-offs, were used in several European countries including Germany and Italy following the 2008 financial crisis.

Employment percentage in the EU.