European leaders have been meeting virtually to discuss how they plan to finance the coronavirus pandemic that has taken Europe (and other parts of the world) by storm.
On Thursday, leaders of EU member states convened to discuss COVID-19 and the measures that need to be taken. The EU Council also released a statement on EU actions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Had a good discussion about the #COVID19 crisis that is affecting us all, via video call with #EUCO. Each member state should take necessary measures at a national level, but we are also taking steps to support each other and our economies at a European level.
— Mark Rutte (@MinPres) March 26, 2020
Of their list of topics discussed during the conference was the European Stability Mechanism (EMS), an emergency fund comprising of over €400 billion in a conference call. The fund was originally set up to bail countries out of the debt crisis.
Countries such as Italy and Spain, which have been severely affected by the virus, wanted to use the money to prevent financial shocks from occurring. However, the Netherlands and Germany want to take a more cautious approach and explore other alternatives, according to NOS.
Rutte: We should explore other options first
“We shouldn’t just shoot all the powder now, but work step by step,” said Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte (and yes, that’s a lovely translation of the Dutch expression, ons kruid verschieten). “Of course there are European instruments to help, but we have to look carefully at the timing and conditions.”
Southern Member states have expressed their discontent with the Dutch position, believing that it is too strict in blocking emergency financial measures, NOS reports.
Portuguese prime minister literally saying the attitude of the #Netherlands is repulsive. It is rare for PT leaders to make such strong statements at EU level. Also recalling period with #Dijsselbloem and warning for a collapse of EU solidarity. #euco
I stand with Portugal. https://t.co/fiH1ZLfs3P
— Johan Langerock (@JohanLangerock) March 26, 2020
These countries criticise the Netherlands for being enthusiastic about compensation measures for fishermen and flower growers, which representatives from Member States call “incomprehensible.”
Discussions to continue
In any case, the EU leaders are determining how much extra money is needed, and which countries require additional resources. They are also considering “corona bonds” — whether the European governments should issue bonds to help fund the crisis. The Netherlands is hesitant about this idea as well, NOS reports.
As of now, discussions are still ongoing for the next few weeks and only time will tell which direction the EU chooses to follow.
Do you think the EU should use its EMS fund to absorb shocks that the coronavirus crisis causes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Feature Image: Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr