European Commission to issue €62.9 billion worth bonds under existing programmes in 2021

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.

The European Commission has today confirmed its plan for bond issuances in 2021 under its existing borrowing programmes. These include the SURE instrument to support short-term employment schemes in the EU Member States, the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM) to refinance debt to two EU countries, as well as the Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) to help non-EU countries address the coronavirus crisis. In total, the EU is going to raise at least €62.9 billion under these three programmes. Of this, between €30 and €35 billion are expected to be raised in the first quarter of the year and between €25 billion and €30 billion in the second quarter.

In addition, the Commission will continue preparations for the first issuance under NextGenerationEU, the temporary recovery instrument. The Commission is due to start borrowing to finance the recovery under this tool as soon the legislative process is completed, with the horizon of mid-2021.For this to be legally possible, EU Member States need to ratify the Own Resources Decision in line with their constitutional requirements

Commissioner for Budget and Administration, Johannes Hahn said: “Between mid-October and mid-November, the Commission raised nearly €40 billion under SURE, while in parallel taking forward the rest of our operations. Our debut as a high-volume issuer capable of ensuring favourable conditions and passing them on to our Member States has been a vote of confidence to the EU as an issuer and a borrower. This has made us confident for the near future, when we will be rising to the challenge of successfully completing the implementation of SURE and launching NextGenerationEU.

The borrowing and lending operations currently foreseen by the European Commission for the first half of 2021 include:

  • €50.8 billion under SURE

The Commission proposed the SURE programme “Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency” – in April 2020. By September 2020, the decision-making process was completed in a record-speed. So far, the Commission has raised a total of €39.5 billion via three transactions under SURE. The Commission has already disbursed this amount to 15 Member States, directly passing them the favourable funding conditions obtained.

In 2021, the Commission will proceed with further issuances under the SURE programme. These will continue to be issued under the social bond label in the form of large and liquid benchmarks. The Commission may also consider taps of the outstanding ones.

The Council has already approved a total of €90.3 billion in financial support to 18 Member States and the Commission’s current funding plans foresee issuances of €50.8, to complement the €39.5 billion already placed on the market. The respective disbursements will follow accordingly.

The Commission may proceed with further issuances under the EU SURE programme in 2021, up to the maximum available ceiling of €100 billion, depending on Member States’ demand.

  • €9.75 billion under the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM)

The EFSM was created for the European Commission to provide financial assistance to any EU country experiencing or threatened by severe financial difficulties. Under the EFSM, the Commission provided assistance, conditional on the implementation of reforms, to Ireland and Portugal between 2011 and 2014, and to provide short-term bridge loans to Greece in July 2015.

To extend maturities of the support provided to Ireland and Portugal, the Commission will refinance €9.75 billion of maturing bonds in the first half of 2021. The Commission currently has €46.8 billion of outstanding borrowing under EFSM.

  • €2.35 billion under the Macro-Financial Assistance programme (MFA)

The MFA is part of the EU’s wider engagement with neighbouring countries and intended as an exceptional EU crisis response instrument. It is available to the EU’s neighbouring countries experiencing balance-of-payments problems.

In 2020, the EU agreed to provide further €3 billion to ten enlargement and neighbourhood partners to help them to limit the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2020, the Commission already started providing funding under this package.

Further €2.35 billion will follow in 2021, both under the standard MFA assistance programme and the COVID-19 targeted issuance.

The outstanding borrowing under the MFA currently stands at €5.8 billion.


The SURE and NextGenerationEU instruments are part of the European Commission response to the coronavirus and its consequences.

SURE is designed to assist EU Member States in addressing sudden increases in public expenditure to preserve employment. The funds raised under SURE are aimed at helping to cover the costs directly related to the financing of national short-time work schemes, and other similar measures they have put in place as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, including for the self-employed. The loans are underpinned by a system of voluntary guarantees from Member States committed to the EU.

The bonds issued under SURE benefit from a social bond label. This provides investors in these bonds with confidence that the funds mobilised will serve a truly social objective.

The European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM) was created for the European Commission to provide financial assistance to any EU country experiencing or threatened by severe financial difficulties.

The EFSM was used to provide financial assistance conditional on the implementation of reforms to Ireland and Portugal between 2011 and 2014, and to provide short-term bridge loans to Greece in July 2015.

Today, euro area countries in need of financial assistance are expected to turn to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), a permanent intergovernmental institution. The ESM is set up by and for euro area countries.

The EFSM, however, remains in place and can be used if the need arises.

Macro-financial assistance (MFA) is a form of financial aid extended by the EU to partner countries experiencing a balance of payments crisis. It takes the form of medium/long-term loans or grants, or a combination of these, and is only available to countries benefiting from a disbursing International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.
MFA is designed for countries geographically, economically and politically close to the EU. These include candidate and potential candidate countries, countries bordering the EU covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and, in certain circumstances, other third countries.

MFA is exceptional in nature and is mobilised on a case-by-case basis to help countries dealing with serious balance-of-payments difficulties. Its objective is to restore a sustainable external financial situation, while encouraging economic adjustments and structural reforms. MFA is intended strictly as a complement to IMF financing.

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