BRUSSELS – EU finance ministers have not agreed on a pan-European strategy to tackle the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus.
Ministers held a video conference on Tuesday to discuss further EU measures proposed by some governments in order to convince investors and others that the bloc will find a common response to a virus that has undermined economic activity.
The countries of Southern Europe hoped that the ministers would agree to new lines of credit from the Eurozone bailout fund or the creation of special “crown bonds” of the EU to finance the economic struggle.
But several countries, including the Netherlands and Germany, opposed.
“We still need to work harder, that was the outcome of this evening. The mandate we receive from the leaders is absolutely key for the next steps, ” Mario Centeno from Portugal told reporters.
According to Centeno, instead of the idea of crown bonds, many countries prefer to open credit lines from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), although nothing was agreed.
ESM chief executive Klaus Regling said he supported the idea of lines of credit that could support 2% of economic production in the eurozone and provide conditions for how governments can use the money.
“But each state will independently decide whether they want to apply for it or not,” he said.
However, even this meager proposal failed to gain enough traction to become policy. The present hue of this crisis has led to a significant increase in euroskeptical sentiments in southern European countries, which were already comparatively high.