“After 16 hours of discussions we came close to a
The finance ministers, who started
They had hoped to agree on a half-trillion-euro
But feuds emerged prominently again, one diplomatic source said: “The Italians want a reference to debt
An official who participated in the talks said at around 0400 GMT on Wednesday The Hague was the only one refusing to endorse a text that the ministers were expected to agree on to get endorsement for a new set of economic measures from the bloc’s 27 national leaders.
German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Twitter:
“In this difficult hour Europe must stand together closely. Together with (French finance minister) Bruno Le Maire, I therefore call on all euro countries not to refuse to resolve these difficult financial issues and to facilitate a good compromise - for all citizens.”
Issuing joint debt has been a battle line between economically ailing southern countries like Spain and Italy and the fiscally frugal north, led by Germany and the Netherlands, since the financial and euro zone crises began over a decade ago.
“SHAME ON EUROPE”To support economies burdened by
But Spain, France and Italy say that is not enough and have cast the discussion about more support as an existential test of solidarity that could make or break the EU.
Further proposals under discussions include credit lines from the euro zone bailout fund that would be worth up to 2% of a country’s economic output, or 240 billion euros in total. The conditions for gaining access to this money remain a sticking point.
Granting the European Investment Bank 25 billion euros of extra guarantees so it can step up lending to companies by a further 200 billion euros is another option.
The third is support for the EU executive’s plan to raise 100 billion euros on the market against 25 billion euros of guarantees from all governments in the bloc to
Creating an emergency support fund issuing grants for medical supplies and health care is another idea, as is a French proposal to create a joint EU solidarity fund to finance long-term recovery.
While the EU is no stranger to protracted horse-trading, the discussion exposes rifts in the bloc and further strains its unity, already damaged by the euro zone crisis and the 2015-16 migration crisis, which partly contributed to Brexit.
So far the ministers, discussing via
Le Maire was quoted as saying at one point during the night, according to one official who participated: “Shame on you, shame on Europe. Stop this
(This story has been corrected to delete extraneous word in paragraph 7.)