Eurozone leaders are negotiating a deal that could deliver a half trillion euros in economic aid to help European Union countries recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
The meeting of the nations’ ministers via a video conference on Tuesday (April 7) was set to gather ideas for more economic aid EU leaders might support, Reuters reported. The session comes as the bloc struggles with the impact of the pandemic.
The news outlet said if an agreement is reached, the EU and national government finance assistance could exceed the response by the U.S. The economic relief package passed in late March by the US Congress in response to COVID-19 totals $2 trillion.
Reaching an accord may be a challenge for the European Union. Spain and Italy, which have been hardest hit by the pandemic, were denied assistance by the fiscally conservative Germany and the Netherlands, the report said.
In the video, Mario Centeno, the ministry of finance in Portugal, and the panel’s chairman, said the proposal is sweeping in its depth.
“It is arguably the most sizable and ambitious package ever prepared by the Eurogroup,” he said. “It builds on unprecedented efforts already taken by governments and monetary authorities,” he said. “The economic plan will shield our economic and social tissue as we dive into a recession.”
Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, said the EU must seek solidarity, according to the report. “It is the same as during the great crisis in the euro,” he said.
The Netherlands, Germany and several others oppose the mutual aid arrangement. They argue Eurozone countries can borrow at very low rates and the limits on deficits have been lifted for the pandemic.
As a result, they say, there’s no need for the initiative with the issuance of Eurobonds.
Last month, the EU announced measures to help businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Margrethe Vestager, EU’s antitrust chief, said businesses impacted by coronavirus can get state guarantees on bank loans and state grants of as much as $551,200 with new temporary measures. She said the idea is the offer of liquidity would keep businesses open.