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The Council of European Ministers of Economy is holding a video conference today to discuss the measures needed to stabilise the economy during the coronavirus crisis. The crisis particularly affects the approximately 25 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the European Union, which account for over 99 percent of all EU companies.

Last week, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier and Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz already presented a set of measures worth billions of euros to counter the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The envisaged measures are geared towards meeting four goals – to expand the options for claiming state support under the short-time work scheme, to provide tax advantages to ensure liquidity of companies, to spread a comprehensive protective shield to the tune of billions of euros over businesses and to strengthen cohesion within the European Union.

Federal Minister Altmaier said: “We are faced with an unusual and challenging situation. We have already started to implement measures to support companies and employees. Now it is important that we also take coordinated and resolute action at European level. I am therefore in close contact with the EU Member States’ ministers responsible for competitiveness and the European Commission to exchange views and coordinate our actions”.

The Federal Government is working closely with the European Commission and the governments of the EU Member States to coordinate the measures to be taken. A total of 37 billion euros is to be made available through the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative presented by the European Commission last Friday. This measure will be complemented by a package of measures adopted by the European Investment Bank, which will make available funding of up to 40 billion euros. The EU Member States and the European Commission have also announced that they will take all necessary measures to address the current challenges and economic impact of the pandemic.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy welcomes these initiatives and is particularly committed to ensuring the liquidity of SMEs and providing flexible state aid rules to make it easier for companies to meet their liquidity needs.

The Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union convened the video conference at short notice after the informal meeting of the EU ministers for competitiveness which was to be held in Zagreb on 19 and 20 March 2020 was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.