Sven Giegold

Eurogroup on corona crisis: Ministers missed the opportunity to give a European response

Yesterday the finance ministers of the euro countries met in a video conference. On the agenda was the reaction of the euro countries to the economic impact of Covid-19 and the ministers did not reach any agreement on new collective or coordinated measures, only accepting the initiatives by the Commission, the EBA and the ECB, as well as the several measures at a national level. According to euro finance ministers, the fiscal measures already adopted amount to 1% of EU economic output and liquidity support to 10% of economic output. The flexibility in the Stability Pact should be fully exploited and exceptions to the state aid rules should allow national emergency aid.

The Green MEPs on the Economic Committee had called on Finance Ministers in a joint letter to take decisive action. MEPs call for a rapid implementation of the flexibility in EU budgetary rules promised by the European Commission, the immediate activation of the ESM credit lines for euro countries in financial difficulties, an EIB credit line for small and medium-sized enterprises, a green economic recovery plan financed by the ESM and a roadmap for the completion of the European Banking Union and Fiscal Union. Signatories include Sven Giegold, Ernest Urtasun (Spain), Damien Carême, Karima Delli, Claude Gruffat (all France), Henrike Hahn (Germany), Philippe Lamberts (Belgium), Ville Niinistö (Finland) and Kira Peter-Hansen (Denmark).

MEPs Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group and Ernest Urtasun, member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, commented:

“The Eurogroup showed a lack of capacity to build a truly European response. They endorsed the measures already adopted both at national and European level but that alone is not enough. The measures presented are merely a summary of the responses to the Corona crisis that have already been decided upon nationally and at European level. What is needed now is a decisive European response that will protect businesses and jobs across the euro area in equal measure. The time for national go-it-alones is over if we want to avoid a deeper division of the euro area.

Ministers must provide with fast and effective emergency assistance to businesses and euro countries. The finance ministers must activate the ESM’s precautionary credit lines without new austerity conditionality for Member States that become victims of a speculative attack. All companies need unbureaucratic access to emergency loans from the European Investment Bank or national development banks. When the acute Corona health crisis is over we need an EU-wide green stimulus package of at least 3% of GDP. We finally need a genuine completion of banking and fiscal union, including common bonds, to make the euro truly crisis-proof. The lack of will to reform since the financial crisis is now threatening to backfire.

Taking into account that the Eurogroup will from now on meet regularly, we urge them to quickly adopt those measures that can help the European economy and its citizens.”

Link to the joint letter:

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