Evaluation of SURE
In 2023, the Commission launched an evaluation to assess how SURE delivered on its main objectives to protect employment, mitigate unemployment risks and reduce the loss of income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of the evaluation, to gather the views of wider stakeholders, including individual firms and workers, the Commission launched on 26 October 2023, an online public consultation on the Have Your Say Portal in all EU languages. The questionnaire is tailored to the type of stakeholders (workers, firms or others), country of residence (beneficiary or non-beneficiary Member States) and knowledge of SURE (good or limited knowledge).
Responses can be submitted in any of the official EU languages until 15 February 2024. A summary report will be published on the consultation page 8 weeks after the survey closes.
The evaluation will assess the effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, coherence and the EU value added of SURE in line with the evaluation criteria set out in the Commission’s Better Regulation guidelines and the Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-Making. It will also address the recommendation of the European Court of Auditors and complement the assessment provided by the Commission in the bi-annual reports.
The evaluation will cover the period between the creation of SURE in May 2020 and its expiry at the end of December 2022. The evaluation will cover all Member States, in particular the 19 Member States that benefited from the instrument.
In 2024, the Commission will publish the results from this important evaluation.
What is SURE?
The temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE) mobilised significant financial means to fight the negative economic and social consequences of the coronavirus outbreak on their territory. It could provide financial assistance up to €100 billion in the form of loans granted on favourable terms from the EU to affected Member States to address sudden increases in public expenditure for the preservation of employment. SURE was a crucial element of the EU's comprehensive strategy to protect citizens and mitigate the severely negative socio-economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
Specifically, the SURE instrument acted as a second line of defence, supporting short-time work schemes and similar measures, to help Member States protect jobs and thus employees and self-employed against the risk of unemployment and loss of income. As an ancillary, SURE could also finance some health-related measures, in particular at the work place, used to ensure a safe return to normal economic activity.
Loans provided to Member States under the SURE instrument were underpinned by a system of voluntary guarantees from Member States. Each Member State’s contribution to the overall amount of the guarantee corresponds to its relative share in the total gross national income (GNI) of the European Union, based on the 2020 EU budget.
The establishment of SURE is a further tangible expression of Union solidarity, whereby the Member States agree to support each other through the Union by making additional financial resources available through loans.
Following proposals for additional assistance of €8.9 billion to 11 Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Portugal), the Council has approved a total of €98.4 billion in financial support to 19 Member States, based on Commission's proposals.
With the final disbursement (14 December 2022), the EU has provided €98.4 billion in back-to-back loans. All 19 EU Member States which have asked to benefit from the scheme have received all of the requested amount. This final disbursement closed the last call made by the Commission for Member States to express interest in SURE loans in 2022. The availability of the SURE instrument ended on 31 December 2022.
|Country||Proposed loan amount||Disbursed|
Note: Amounts displayed in the table are rounded down to the nearest million.
The Commission analysed the impact of SURE on unemployment, the real economy and its direct financial effect in the bi-annual reports (see the subsection “Reporting under SURE”). The key findings could be summarized as follows:
- Member States have spent almost EUR 122 billion on measures funded by SURE.
- Approximately 31½ million people and 2½ million firms are estimated to have been covered by SURE in 2020.
- 9 million people and over 900,000 firms were covered by SURE in 2021 in 15 Member States, with a clear phasing out in 2022 when 350,000 people and 40,000 firms were covered in 4 Member States.
- Policy measures including those supported by SURE are estimated to have effectively helped prevent unemployment for around 1½ million people in 2020.
- The primary beneficiaries of SURE support are small and medium sized enterprises, in particular in the sectors most affected by the pandemic (accommodation and food services, wholesale and retail trade, and manufacturing).
- Beyond the social and employment benefits, Member States are estimated to have saved EUR 9,0 billion in interest payments.
EU SURE social bond
To finance the instrument, the Commission has been issuing social bonds. The Social Bond Framework is meant to provide investors in these bonds with confidence that the funds mobilised will serve a truly social objective.
By 7 December, the European Commission had issued €98.4 billion social bonds in nine rounds under the EU SURE instrument to help protect jobs (see overview: SURE - Disbursements under various bond maturities). The issuances consisted of bonds ranging from 5 to 30 years. There was very strong investor interest in these highly rated instruments, and the oversubscription resulted in favourable pricing terms for the bonds. The raised funds are transferred to the beneficiary Member States in the form of loans to help them directly cover the costs related to the financing of national short-time work schemes and similar measures as a response to the pandemic.
On 27 October 2021, the EU SURE social bond was listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, and will be displayed on the Luxembourg Green Exchange, the world’s leading platform exclusively dedicated to sustainable securities.
Reporting under SURE
As per Article 14 of the SURE Regulation, the Commission should report to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC) and the Employment Committee on the use of financial assistance, including outstanding amounts and the applicable repayment schedule under SURE, and on the continuation of the exceptional occurrences that justify the application of this Regulation.
On top of the legal requirements, the Commission is also bound by Section 2.4 of the Social Bond Framework to report on the allocation and the impact of the SURE proceeds, including on the number of workers and firms that benefitted from measures supported by SURE.
The Commission issued five bi-annual reports to deliver on its reporting obligations and to provide additional analysis on the impact of SURE on unemployment, the real economy and its direct financial effect.
Audit of SURE
In 2021, the European Court of auditors announced through its 2022 Annual Work Programme that it would audit SURE because of its reported importance in cushioning the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic and its sizeable envelope of €100 billion. The purpose of the audit was to find out whether the Commission responded effectively in mitigating the unemployment risk in the EU over the period 2020-2022 through the SURE instrument.
The European Court of Auditors’ report is overall very positive on the instrument, recognising the quick and efficient reaction by the Commission to the challenge of helping Member States preserve employment as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report makes only one recommendation: to evaluate SURE. The Commission accepted this recommendation and will carry out an evaluation study of SURE by the third quarter of 2024. This will complement the bi-annual reporting on SURE.
- 31 December 2022
SURE is deactivated
- 14 December 2022
The Commission makes a final disbursement of €6.5 billion to 9 Member States
- 21 November 2022
The Council decides to grant additional financial support to Latvia
- 25 October 2022
The Council decides to grant additional financial support to six Member States
- 21 October 2022
The Commission proposes an additional €167 million to Latvia
- 5 October 2022
The Commission proposes to amend Council Implementing Decision 2020/1353 of 25 September 2020 granting support to Poland.
- 3 October 2022
The Commission proposes an additional €2.5 billion to Czechia
- 28 September 2022
The Commission proposes an additional €900 million to Greece, €29 million to Cyprus and €300 million to Portugal
- 20 September 2022
The Commission proposes an additional €550 million to Croatia and €142 million to Lithuania
- 20 September 2022
The Council decides to grant additional financial support to Bulgaria
- 25 August 2022
The Commission proposes to provide €460 million additional support to Bulgaria
- 20 June 2022
The Commission proposes to amend Council Implementing Decision 2020/1355 of 25 September 2020 granting support to Romania.
- 29 March 2022
The Commission disburses €1.5 billion to Poland, €523 million to Portugal and €147 million to Hungary.
- 4 January 2022
The Commission proposes to amend Council Implementing Decision 2020/1354 of 25 September 2020 granting support to Portugal.
- 21 December 2021
The Commission proposes to provide €147 million additional support to Hungary
- 25 May 2021
Commission disburses €14.1 billion to 12 Member States
- 23 April 2021
The Council decides to grant additional financial support to six Member States
- 30 March 2021
The Commission disburses €13 billion to 6 Member States
- 30 March 2021
The Commission proposes to provide €3.7 billion additional support to 6 Member States
- 16 March 2021
Commission disburses €9 billion under SURE to seven Member States
- 26 February 2021
Commission proposes to provide €230 million to Estonia under SURE
- 2 February 2021
Commission disburses €14 billion under SURE to nine Member States
- 1 December 2020
Commission disburses €8.5 billion under SURE to five Member States
- 17 November 2020
The Commission has disbursed €14 billion to Italy, Spain, Greece, Croatia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Slovenia, Malta and Latvia.
- 16 November 2020
The Commission proposed financial support of €2.5 billion to Ireland
- 27 October 2020
The Commission has disbursed €17 billion to Italy, Spain and Poland
- 23 October 2020
The Council decided to grant financial support of €504 million to Hungary
- 7 October 2020
The Commission proposed financial support of €504 million to Hungary
- 25 September 2020
The Council decided to grant financial support to 16 Member States
- 22 September 2020
SURE is activated
- 24-25 August 2020
The Commission proposed a financial support of €87.3 billion for 16 Member States
- 19 May 2020
The Council approved the proposal and adopted the SURE regulation
- 2 April 2020
The Commission proposed the creation of SURE
- Press release
Protecting jobs and workers: Final report confirms SURE was crucial in mitigating impact of pandemic and supporting recovery
In 2020, the Commission´s nearly €100 billion SURE instrument designed to protect jobs and incomes affected by the COVID-19 pandemic supported about 31.5 million employees and self-employed people and over 2.5 million businesses.
- Daily news
Commission makes final €6.5 billion payment under SURE, bringing total support to Member States to €98.4 billion
The Commission has today disbursed over €6.5 billion to nine Member States in the final transaction under SURE, the instrument designed to protect jobs and incomes affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Actualité quotidienne
La Commission propose de fournir 167 millions d'euros supplémentaires à la Lettonie au titre de SURE
La Commission européenne a présenté aujourd'hui au Conseil une proposition de décision visant à accorder à la Lettonie un soutien financier supplémentaire de 167 millions d'euros au titre de l'instrument SURE, ce qui porte son soutien total au pays à 472 millions d'euros.