Rome secures stronger EU measures against coronavirus from EU summit
Italy threatened on Thursday to refuse to endorse the joint European summit declaration if the 27 did not provide a “strong and adequate” economic response to the Covid-19 crisis. The Eurogroup must therefore present new proposals within 15 days.
The 27 countries of the European Union (EU) accepted Thursday, March 26, under pressure from Italy, to examine within 15 days stronger measures to deal with the announced recession. “We fully recognize the seriousness of the socio-economic consequences of the Covid-19 crisis and we will do everything necessary to meet this challenge in a spirit of solidarity,” they said in a joint statement. European leaders have asked the Eurogroup to “present proposals within two weeks” to allow “to strengthen the response with new actions (…) in the light of developments, in order to provide a comprehensive response “.
These new proposals were imposed by Italy and Spain, who demanded a “strong and adequate” economic response from the 27. At a laborious summit, Rome threatened to refuse to endorse the joint declaration if this request was not taken into account. “Here it is a question of reacting with innovative and truly adequate financial instruments to a war which we must wage together to win it as quickly as possible”, had warned the president of the Italian council Giuseppe Conte.
On Wednesday, nine European leaders, including Giuseppe Conte but also Frenchman Emmanuel Macron, had urged “to work on an instrument” to launch a loan common to the entire euro zone, seeing it as the foundation of a more united European economy.
Angela Merkel opposed to “corona bonds”
But the idea of pooling the debts of countries in the euro zone, which would facilitate borrowing from the southern states, does not please Germany and the Netherlands. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, moreover, proclaimed loud and clear at the end of the summit her opposition to what we call “corona bonds”. “It is not the conception of all the member states” to issue these joint European loans, she said. A rejection supported by his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte.
During this summit by videoconference of more than six hours, the leaders however validated the suspension of the European rules of budgetary discipline, which will allow them to spend as much as necessary to fight against the virus and its consequences.
For its part, the European Parliament approved very widely on Thursday emergency measures in response to the coronavirus crisis, during an extraordinary session in Brussels where the votes were made exceptionally by email.
MEPs approve support measures
MEPs voted for the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, which leveraged € 37 billion in EU funds. The aid must be used to support the health systems, small and medium-sized enterprises, the labor market and the economic sectors most vulnerable to the pandemic.
Parliament also approved the temporary suspension of European rules on slots at airports. These rules oblige airlines to use at least 80% of the slots allocated to them at airports, failing which they lose their rights the following season. In order to prevent companies from flying empty planes to keep these slots, these rules are expected to be suspended at least until October.
MEPs finally approved the extension of the EU Solidarity Fund, which had previously been intended to respond to natural disasters, so that it also covers health emergencies.