German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz have called on the European Union to expand financial aid for member states in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide quick access to the funds, avoiding bureaucracy
BERLIN (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 06th April, 2020) German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz have called on the European Union to expand financial aid for member states in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide quick access to the funds, avoiding bureaucracy.
The ministers expressed their point of view in the article published on Monday in different language versions in Les Echos (France), La Stampa (Italy), El Pais (Spain), Publico (Portugal) and Ta Nea (Greece). According to them, "Europe was not at first adequately prepared" for the pandemic, but now, as all EU states have taken measures to support their economies, it is necessary to take the next step and provide quick and easy access to financial resources to avoid "a rerun of the austerity policy."
"The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) already permits eurozone countries to borrow capital together on the same favourable conditions. For Italy, this would mean a fresh injection of 39 billion euros, and for Spain, 28 billion euros. They should be allowed to use this money for all necessary expenditures to fight the coronavirus. We don't need a troika, inspectors, and a reform programme for each country drawn up by the Commission. What we need is quick and targeted relief. The ESM can provide precisely that if we adjust it sensibly," the English language version of the article, published by the German Foreign Office, read.
Also, Maas and Scholz propose using a pan-European guarantee fund to provide loans to small- and medium-sized enterprises through the European Investment Bank. They also recalled the idea of the SURE mechanism (Support mitigating Unemployment Risks in Emergency), which has now been taken up by the European Commission to support enterprises by subsidizing part-time employment.
The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11. To date, more than 1.2 million people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide, with nearly 70,000 related fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University. Europe is currently the most pandemic-affected region in the world.