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EU To Consider Economic Rescue Measures Amid Coronavirus Crisis

EU finance ministers are to meet by video conference to discuss an economic rescue plan for European countries worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The ministers are under pressure to deliver proposals for further fiscal measures to counter the socioeconomic impacts of the epidemic.

On the table is a "safety net" worth a half-trillion euros ($540 billion), according to the Eurogroup president, Portuguese Finance Minister Mario Centeno.

Included is a precautionary credit line from the European Stability Mechanism in case individual countries experience difficulties raising funds to deal with the fallout from the pandemic.

Also under discussion is a guarantee fund from the European Investment Bank for business liquidity and EU support, which would pay the wages of workers who would otherwise be laid off by struggling firms.

More controversial is the question of whether to jointly issue "coronabonds," which would pool borrowing among EU members.

Some southern EU countries, notably Italy and Spain, are demanding this.

But the idea of such debt has been rejected by Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and Finland, who fear it would mean the eventual sharing of all sovereign debts.

The European Central Bank has already announced a 750 billion-euro ($812 billion) program to buy government and company debt across the eurozone and ease the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, while the European Commission has relaxed its state aid and budgetary rules.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa