The 27 member states agreed Thursday evening, under pressure from Italy, to examine within two weeks stronger measures to deal with the announced recession. As for Xavier Bettel, he pleaded for “the maintenance of cross-border traffic”.

The 27 member states agreed Thursday evening, under pressure from Italy, to examine within two weeks stronger measures to deal with the announced recession. As for Xavier Bettel, he pleaded for “the maintenance of cross-border traffic”.

(ER with .) – “No country should be left alone to face the consequences of the covid-19 crisis. We can and must do more and we must demonstrate collective ambition and solidarity in order to find a coordinated response, ”said Xavier Bettel (DP).

The Prime Minister recalled that the country’s finances were sound and that he would have no trouble borrowing alone on his side. “But I would not want us to get the money, not the countries in greatest difficulty like Italy or Spain. Europe is a question of solidarity, so I signed a declaration to say that our country was in favor of a joint loan to help all members of the EU. ”

Third #EUCO video conference on the EU’s response to # COVID19. Our immediate focus is & needs to be on fighting the spread of the virus & the health of our citizens. But we also have to prepare for the economic & financial aftermath of the crisis: no country should be left alone! pic.twitter.com/KBmWuG4dlg

– Xavier Bettel (@Xavier_Bettel)
   March 26, 2020

Solidarity to fight against the breathlessness of the economy was at the heart of the videoconference of the heads of state and government of the European Union which replaced the traditional European Council in March.

The leaders asked the Eurogroup, the body of the finance ministers of the countries having adopted the single currency, to “present proposals within two weeks” to allow “to strengthen the response by new actions (.. .) in the light of developments, in order to provide a global response ”.

The leaders of the main industrialized and emerging countries promised Thursday to invest $ 5,000 billion to support the global economy threatened by the coronavirus pandemic.

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 heeded. “It is a question here of reacting with innovative and truly adequate financial instruments to a war which we must fight together to win it as quickly as possible”, had warned the president of the Italian council Giuseppe Conte.

North-south opposition

At the start of the summit, the President of the European Parliament, the Italian David Sassoli also called for “extraordinary measures to respond” to the crisis. 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 has also spoken out loud and clear after the summit against her so-called “corona bonds”. “It is not the conception of all the member states” to issue these common European loans, she said. A rejection supported by his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte.

As during the debt crisis in the euro zone between 2010 and 2012, the proponents of greater financial solidarity clash, the countries of the south, less virtuous in budgetary matters, and those of the north, wary of neighbors they consider lax.

While the pandemic has already claimed more than 10,000 lives in the EU, mainly in Italy and Spain, the confinement of the population has disastrous consequences for the economy. It translates into shutdown companies, stock markets in the red and dramatic growth forecasts.

European states have, from the start of the crisis, favored national responses, in particular by unveiling major spending plans, without seeking to coordinate at European level.

Bettel against restrictive border measures

During this summit by videoconference of more than six hours, the leaders 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.

One avenue explored is the creation of an instrument in the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the euro zone relief fund which allows a precautionary credit line to be granted to a country, a group of countries, or even to all of the euro area countries that request it.

It is right at the time when the covid-19 crisis causes a relative sealing of the borders that the free movement agreement across the European Union celebrates its 25 spring.

In principle, this money would not be used but would give a reassuring signal to the markets: in the event of a problem, the country concerned could theoretically have recourse to it.

Xavier Bettel also pointed out that the restrictive measures introduced in certain parts of the EU risked having a serious impact on the functioning of the single market and the Schengen area. “Cross-border and goods traffic is a lifeline for Luxembourg and many other states. Any measure introduced at the internal borders of the EU must ensure that at least the unhindered transit of frontier workers, the repatriation of citizens, essential medical supplies and essential goods is ensured, “argued the Prime Minister of Luxembourg.

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