Governments from the 19 countries that use the euro overcame sharp differences to agree Thursday on measures that could provide more than a half-trillion euros ($550 billion) for companies, workers and health systems to cushion the economic impact of the virus outbreak.
Mario Centeno, who heads the finance ministers’ group from European Union countries, called the package of measures agreed upon “totally unprecedented… Tonight Europe has shown it can deliver when the will is there.”
The deal struck Thursday among the finance ministers did not, however, include more far-reaching cooperation in the form of shared borrowing guaranteed by all member countries.
The officials left that issue open, pushing the question to their national leaders to sort out down the road as part of a further discussion about a fund to support the economic recovery in the longer term. Still, Italian Finance Minister Robert Gualtieri tweeted that shared borrowing through “eurobonds” had been “put on the table.”
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Borrowing together to pay for the costs of the crisis was a key demand from Italy, Spain, France and six other countries. Italy and other indebted members are expected to see their debt load increase because of the recession caused by the virus outbreak.