European leaders have clashed over how to pull their economies through the coronavirus crisis, as Italy accused other member states of a timid response to an unprecedented economic shock. Even as a virtual summit of the EU’s 27 leaders was still ongoing, Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, released a statement rejecting a pre-prepared draft statement because he thought it was a weak response to the scale of the crisis. The Italian leader gave the EU 10 days to come up with a solution, but did not say what he would do if there was no agreement by then. Hours before the summit, Conte called for “extraordinary and exceptional measures” to help Europe’s battered economies deal with a sharp downturn and the expected surge in joblessness resulting from coronavirus. Backed by France, Spain and seven other eurozone countries, Italy wants a “European recovery bond” or “coronabonds” – namely, EU-backed debt to lift member states out of a recession and increase spending on healthcare. But the idea of shared debt remains anathema to Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, who shunned the similar concept of “eurobonds” during the eurozone crisis a few years earlier. In a video conference summit – their third in… Read full this story
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