French President Emmanuel Macron has called for European solidarity in the coronavirus crisis, suggesting common debt or the EU budget could be used to help countries worst affected.
“I don’t want a selfish and divided Europe,” Macron said in an interview with three Italian newspapers.
“We will not overcome this crisis without strong European solidarity,” he told Corriere della Serra, La Stampa et La Repubblica. He also stressed that “France stands alongside Italy.”
His comments come after EU leaders clashed on Thursday over whether to create a common debt instrument — dubbed “corona bonds” — to help finance the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Macron said that 10 eurozone countries representing 60 percent of the common currency area’s GDP backed the idea of coronabonds in Thursday’s videoconference. Other countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, have publicly opposed the concept.
“We have decided to continue this fundamental debate, at the highest political level, in the coming weeks. We cannot abandon this battle,” Macron said.
“Does the European Union, the eurozone, boil down to a monetary institution and a set of rules that allow each state to act on its own? Or do we act together to finance our expenses, our needs in this vital crisis? I want this choice of solidarity to be made fully,” he said.
Macron said assistance could come in the form of “a common debt capacity, whatever its name, or an increase in the European Union budget to allow real support to the countries most affected by this crisis.”
The EU’s current seven-year budget cycle finishes at the end of this year. EU leaders were engaged in difficult negotiations to agree the next long-term financial plan before the pandemic struck.