On April 9th, European Union finance ministers agreed on an emergency response plan of €500 billion.
“This proposal contains bold and ambitious proposals that would have been unthinkable just a few weeks ago”, the Portuguese Finance minister and president of the Eurogroup Mario Centeno said in a video conference.
“We can all remember the response to the financial crisis of the last decade, when Europe did too little too late. This time around is different.”
The proposal, he added, “implements the strong response that Europe needs”.
Shortly after they reached an agreement, finance ministers enthusiastically announced the news on social media.
“Excellent agreement between EU finance ministers on the economic response to coronavirus,” French finance minister Bruno Le Maire tweeted.
Excellent accord entre ministres des Finances européens sur la réponse économique au #Coronavirus : 500 milliards d’euros disponibles immédiatement. Un fonds de relance à venir. L’Europe décide et se montre à la hauteur de la gravité de la crise.
— Bruno Le Maire (@BrunoLeMaire) April 9, 2020
“500 billion euros will be made available immediately. A stimulus package is to come. Europe is standing up to face the seriousness of the situation.” Le Maire added: “This is an important day for Europe.”
“After long and intense conversations the last couple of days, the Eurogroup came to a good conclusion today. We made sensible agreements together for Europe and the Netherlands to face the coronacrisis”, the Dutch Finance minister Wopke Hoekstra said.
Hoekstra added that the “comprehensive package” will help EU member states to “finance the medical costs” and “build national economies on the long-term”.
The ESM is the European Stability Mechanism. Once activated, it should provide financial assistance to countries facing difficulties that would otherwise drag the entire EU area into a downward spiral, dangerous for the economic resilience of member states.
With some countries reporting signs of hope in terms of new COVID-19 infections, including Italy, some countries have already expressed their will to relax some lockdown measures in place.
Austria and Czech Republic have announced that by next week, some non-essential shops will start reopening. Denmark’s schools will reopen on 15 April and Norway’s on 20 April.
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has said that some lockdown measures will be relaxed in the coming weeks: “If scientists confirm it, we might be able to relax some measures already by the end of this month,” he said in a statement.
Spain has extended its state of emergency to 26 April, another two weeks.
The €500 billion package is also in solidarity because money is immediately available from the ESM for medical purposes and because there is agreement about other emergency packages, he said. “The loans from the emergency fund must be corona-related, we are not just going to finance the healthcare of other countries,” Hoekstra said.
Italy, Spain and Portugal previously accused the Netherlands of showing a lack of solidarity. Italy, the EU country hit hardest by the coronavirus so far, in particular pushed for coronabonds and unconditional use of the emergency fund.
“Some countries think that if there is enough pressure, things will start to move. We can talk about everything. We are in solidarity. But if countries want to invest money from the emergency fund in their economy in addition to the corona crisis, then there are conditions,” Hoekstra said
Meanwhile, on April 9th, the United States surpassed 460,000 cases, while Italy, Spain, Germany and France continued their relatively low percentage gains of new cases.
France registered a high number of 1,341 fatalities, while other European countries registered a downward trend in new fatalities.
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