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EU hopes to mitigate lockdown and help workers with €100 billion fund

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Virus Outbreak Germany European Central Bank   -   Copyright  Michael Probst/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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The EU is adding more financial firepower to mitigate the economic effects of the coronavirus lockdowns.

This time the European Commission is seeking to help those left out of work, and companies left out of pocket, with the launch of a new €100 billion fund.

"It can mitigate the effect of the recession, it keeps people in work, it enables companies to return to the market with renewed vigour," said Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President.

The scheme, called SURE (Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency), will see member states provide guarantees for the funding.

"The commission will provide loans to those member states that need them to strengthen their short-time work schemes," von der Leyen told reporters.

"These schemes now exist and are planned across the European Union, so SURE can benefit all member states who want to use it."

The European Trade Unions Confederation (ETUC) welcomed the announcement - but added that the scheme must extend to all EU countries, as well as self-employed workers.

They urged EU finance ministers, who meet next week, to take urgent decisions to help European workers.

More than one million people have been made redundant in the past two weeks (according to ETUC), as companies wrestle with the economic fallout of coronavirus.