Von der Leyen: EUR 200m available to Slovenia from Tuesday

Ljubljana – The European Commission disbursed EUR 200 million to Slovenia in the form of loans under favourable terms as part of the SURE instrument on Tuesday out of the total of EUR 1.1 billion in support approved to the country to mitigate unemployment risks in an emergency.

The Commission today disbursed EUR 14 billion to nine EU countries in what is the second instalment of financial support to member states under the SURE instrument.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had already announced the first funds would be available to the country from Tuesday in an interview with the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija aired last night. She said the EU wished to help Slovenian employees and companies.

“Companies have a hard time keeping their staff. We are sending them the message not to lay off staff even though there is not enough of work. The SURE instrument will help them pay out wages so that know-how will stay in the companies,” she stressed.

Loans will be very favourable but talks on the terms are still under way with member states, she said, adding that cooperation with social partners would be crucial to determine which companies should be backed by loans to help them keep their staff and resume work once the crisis is over.

Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said in a separate interview with RTV Slovenija that the government was eagerly awaiting EU funds. Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj has a programme of spending ready – the money is to be used to finance existing measures and those that will follow to preserve jobs, he said.

The seventh stimulus package, which is also being drawn up, addresses the issues of entrepreneurs across industries that have not been addressed yet, Počivalšek said.

In its application for the financial support under the SURE instrument Slovenia listed measures such as the furlough and short-time work schemes, the basic income and exempting the self-employed from the payment of social contributions, among other things.

Von der Leyen also presented efforts to purchase Covid-19 vaccines, noting the Commission would close the fifth contract on the purchase of the vaccines on Tuesday, this time with the company Cerevac.

Počivalšek meanwhile pointed to potential logistic problems in the transporting of Pfeizer’s vaccine, which must be stored at -80 degrees Celsius, noting the government had already discussed the matter and would prepare solutions as soon as possible. “But I wish we act responsibly as a state and solve the Covid-19 issue with or without a vaccine,” the minister said.