The European Commission is working on proposals to fight the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and President Ursula von der Leyen is “not excluding any options” ahead of changes to the bloc’s next budget.
European Union leaders failed to agree earlier this week on key details for the economic rescue measures. Meanwhile, coronavirus infections surged in Spain, France and Italy despite restrictions on public life. Finance chiefs in the Eurogroup were tasked with creating proposals within two weeks.
“At this juncture, the president is not excluding any options within the limits of the treaty,” the EU’s executive arm said in a statement published late on Saturday in Brussels.
A group of member states including France, Italy and Spain pushed at the EU summit on Thursday for more radical steps to tackle the economic fallout, such as a possible joint-debt issuance via so-called coronabonds. Germany and the Netherlands dissented, echoing similar divisions during the sovereign debt crisis that almost tore the bloc apart about a decade ago.
“The Commission will participate in these discussions and stands ready to assist, if supported by the Eurogroup,” von der Leyen said in the statement. “This is required since the fiscal space for new instruments is limited as we are in the last year” of the multi-annual budget plan for the bloc.
“We are currently working on a full flexibilisation of existing funds -- such as the structural funds,” she said, adding that the changes could include a stimulus package “that will ensure that cohesion within the Union is maintained through solidarity and responsibility.”
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