Spain and Italy to press EU’s ‘frugal four’ for coronavirus crisis funds

Italy and Spain will seek to jointly convince four reticent EU members to back a huge bailout aimed at overcoming the coronavirus crisis, their prime ministers said Wednesday in Madrid.

Spain and Italy to press EU's 'frugal four' for coronavirus crisis funds
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (R) with his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte at the Moncloa palace in Madrid on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

European Union leaders are negotiating a plan worth up to 750 billion euros ($850 billion) to help countries absorb the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

Italy and Spain are among the hardest hit countries, but their calls for EU aid have met with resistance from four “frugal” EU members — Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden.

A decision on the aid is expected during an EU summit in Brussels on July 17-18. It must be unanimous.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told a press conference Wednesday he would meet next week with his Dutch and Swedish counterparts and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Germany and France have backed the EU plan, but Berlin has been wary in the past of massive EU spending and will play a major role in any decision.

“With the frugals, we are doing diplomatic work … to convince them ahead of the July 17 summit,” Sanchez said.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told the same press briefing he would also travel to the Netherlands and Berlin ahead of the summit.

“We are talking about Europe's future,” Conte insisted. “Without a strong, coordinated European response, we will destroy the common market,” he said.

Member comments

  1. Six months into this crisis and the EU has still not come to the aid of its members! This, as much as anything else, highlights the failure of the EU. While these overpaid, underworked incompetent elites debate and finagle, small businesses and families are going broke. Say what one will about the US, but within a month of the lockdown, the US began assisting families and businesses. And that aid has helped many businesses weather this storm. Sooner or later, the powers to be in each country will realize what is essential to the EU elites has nothing to do what is right for each sovereign nation, and it’s about time they exercised their sovereignty and left this failing institution.

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