Europe’s finance ministers have not yet reached an agreement on how to tackle the crisis resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
“After 16 hours of discussions, we came close to a deal, but we are not there yet,” tweeted Eurogroup president Mario Centeno, expressing his goal to create “a strong EU safety net” and for Europe to “commit to a sizeable recovery plan.”
After 16h of discussions we came close to a deal but we are not there yet.
I suspended the #Eurogroup & continue tomorrow, thu.
My goal remains: A strong EU safety net against fallout of #covid19 (to shield workers, firms &countries)& commit/ to a sizeable recovery plan pic.twitter.com/kGHoURgdrv
One of the major points of contention among the finance ministers is the establishment of a so-called “corona bond,” a sort of public debt instrument. Notably, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland are against such a bond. Last week, they “argued that the issuance of a common debt instrument would punish the countries that had saved for such a rainy day, and encourage further fiscal mismanagement by those who did not,” according to The Guardian.
Meanwhile, severely affected countries like France, Italy and Spain continue to push for a bond. Greece, Malta, Luxembourg and Ireland would be favourable towards a corona bond as well, according to the RTBF. France had suggested a “recovery fund” that would issue common debt to member states but would limit itself to essential public services such as health care or threatened sectors.
The countries that are against the corona bond are pointing to existing structures like the European Stability Mechanism, which was set up during the 2012 debt crisis, or the European Investment Bank, which could free up to €200 billion for companies affected by the new coronavirus (Covid-19).
“Affected citizens and businesses deserve a clear signal of European solidarity,” commented Belgian finance minister Alexander De Croo, who said he hoped an agreement would be reached on Thursday. Should this be the case, the agreement would still need to be approved at a national level.