Below is copy via EFCEM’s membership of ORGALIM. It contains details regarding the free movement of goods, border control measures, financial and accounting developments across the EU in relation to the COVID-19 crisis:
The European Union has developed a series of actions to fight and overcome the sudden sanitary, economic and social crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
These were presented on Friday 13 March by the European Commission in a Communication on a Coordinated economic response to the COVID-19 Outbreak, outlining a series of measures to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic, using all the instruments at its disposal, in order:
Maintaining the free circulation of goods within the EU Internal Market
On 16 March, the European Commission published a set of Guidelines aiming at guaranteeing the continuous flow of goods and services throughout the Internal Market. The main objective is to prevent “Member States from undertaking measures that jeopardise the integrity of the Single Market for goods, in particular of supply chains, or engage in any unfair practices”. On the other hand, Member States are allowed to considerably limit the free circulation of people, while facilitating that of transport professionals. These measures concern in particular:
These Guidelines were completed on 23 March by new practical advice on how to implement them, particularly to keep freight moving across the EU. In a Communication, the Commission fine tunes the rules applicable to the “Green Lanes” and requires from Member States:
Closing the external Schengen borders
On Tuesday 16, the Commission presented in a Communication a recommendation to the European Council to adopt a coordinated decision to apply a temporary restriction (30 days) of non-essential travel from third countries into the EU. This recommendation was approved by the European Council on 17 March, to be enforced only by Member States under national law.
On 19 March, the Commission adopted a Temporary Framework to help Member States support the economy in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak, as foreseen by article 107(3)(b) TFEU to remedy a serious disturbance across the EU economy. The Temporary Framework aims to enable Member States to :
(i) set up schemes for direct grants (or tax advantages) up to €500,000 to a company that has experienced difficulties after 31 December 2019,
(ii) give subsidised State guarantees on bank loans,
(iii) enable public and private loans with subsidised interest rates and
(iv) ensure that aid channelled via the banks is not considered as direct aid to the banks but to the banks’ customers, giving guidance on how to minimise any undue residual aid to the banks in line with EU rules.
Stability and Growth Pact
On 20 March, the European Commission proposed in a Communication that the Council decides upon the activation of the Stability and Growth Pact specific articles allowing Member States to undertake budgetary measures “in periods of severe economic downturn for the euro area or the Union as a whole”. In such circumstances, Member States may be allowed temporarily to depart from the adjustment path towards the medium-term budgetary objective, provided that this does not endanger fiscal sustainability in the medium term”.
As stated in the Communication, “the general escape clause does not suspend the procedures of the Stability and Growth Pact. It will allow the Commission and the Council to undertake the necessary policy coordination measures within the framework of the Pact, while departing from the budgetary requirements that would normally apply”.
The ECOFIN Council endorsed the Commission views on 23 March.
Over the most recent time, the Commission approved specific state aid measures undertaken by Denmark, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Latvian, Luxemburg and Portugal to support their economy.
Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative
The Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (see here summary by the European Parliament’s services) coordinates all possible means available within the existing EU budget to support EU countries and consists of three main elements:
European Central Bank
The European Central Bank announced on 18 March a new “temporary asset purchase programme of private and public sector securities” or Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) of up to €750 billion which will last at least until the end of the year.