EU members clash over pandemic economic rescue plan | Business


France and the Netherlands openly clashed over the meaning of a messy compromise reached by finance ministers that unlocked a 500 billion euro (£ 438 billion) pandemic rescue plan for European economies , but did not solve the main problems.

Hours after a breakthrough was made late Thursday evening to allow immediate support for businesses and health systems, it became clear on Friday that there were bitter divisions within the EU on the task long-term reconstruction of the European economy.

Finance ministers have agreed to make available to the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic around 240 billion euros in credit lines through the European Stability Facility, a rescue fund for struggling member states.

No conditions will be attached when expenditure is linked to the immediate crisis. But normal rules on the need to balance budgets will apply when money is spent for the whole economy.

On the toxic issue of so-called coronabunds, under which EU member states would borrow on international financial markets on the same conditions and share responsibility, the agreed text only referred to governments working on “instruments financial institutions, in line with EU treaties ”. To create a rescue fund.

French Finance Minister Bruno le Maire insisted on Friday that this would ultimately amount to joint debt issuance, despite opposition from the Netherlands, Austria, Finland and the Germany.

The Mayor said: “I have the firm conviction that the fund will emerge and that there will be a debt raised jointly in a form which remains to be determined.

“It means what it means.” The only instrument that does not yet exist in European financing is the common debt. “

Wopke Hoekstra, the Dutch finance minister, said he was “very satisfied” with the result after 16 hours of talks, adding coronabonds “that there will be none”. He told Dutch TV channels: “Sometimes you have to put your foot down. “


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