EU agrees on further action in corona crisis


UIn order to cope with the economic consequences of the corona virus crisis, the EU states should develop joint fiscal policy measures within the next two weeks. The EU heads of state and government agreed on Thursday evening after hours of struggling in their video booth, as the German press agency learned from diplomatic circles. Italy had previously rejected the summit declaration previously negotiated. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte called for “truly innovative and appropriate financial instruments” within ten days.

Italy and Spain are worst hit by the Coronavirus crisis in Europe. Despite the sharpest curfews, hundreds of people die every day from the new lung disease Covid-19. The economy is practically at a standstill, especially in Italy, which had hardly any growth and huge mountains of debt even before the crisis.

According to government officials at the summit, Conte made it clear that he did not want public debt to be communitized. Each country is responsible for its own debts and will continue to do so. But Europe must act together and find a strong answer to the crisis. Otherwise you could not explain it to the citizens.

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Only with the Italian No the compromise, which had previously been laboriously negotiated, was initially gone – and the much-desired signal of the unity of the European Union was in danger. In the evening, according to diplomats, Council President Charles Michel tried to correct the summit declaration and thus save it.

The model previously agreed among the 27 countries envisaged to instruct the Eurogroup to immediately negotiate an instrument for “pandemic crisis support”. This refers to precautionary credit lines from the European Stability Mechanism ESM. This would be available to states that could face difficulties due to the enormous support packages for the domestic economy. The ESM has around 410 billion euros available for loans. At present, however, all countries can still easily finance themselves on the capital market.

A group of nine EU countries – including Italy – had already announced further plans on Wednesday: They are calling for a common debt instrument known as corona bonds. However, these meet with resistance in Germany and some other countries.

After the controversial solo efforts of several EU countries at the beginning of the Corona crisis, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her EU colleagues have now coordinated a video summit for the third time in three weeks. Earlier, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen had heavily criticized unilateral export bans, border controls and disruptions to the internal market in Europe.

“When Europe really had to be there for one another, too many initially only thought of themselves,” said von der Leyen in a special session of the European Parliament. “And when Europe really had to prove that we are not a” fair weather union “, too many initially refused to share their umbrella.” In the meantime, the states had started to help each other. “Europe is back,” said von der Leyen.

Now the 27 EU countries wanted to do better. In the prepared draft of the declaration on the video summit, they assured that the problems for the movement of goods at the partially closed borders were resolved. Together, the procurement of protective equipment is to be promoted and research on vaccines against Covid-19 is to be promoted.

The entry ban for non-EU citizens that was imposed jointly for 30 days last week could be extended. That will be decided in due course, it said. At the same time, the heads of state and government ask the EU Commission to start working on an exit strategy to normalize the situation. Coordinated action, a comprehensive economic recovery plan and unprecedented investment would be needed.

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