March 25, 2020 / 11:55 AM / 2 months ago

Nine EU leaders call for joint debt issuance for coronavirus spending

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Leaders of nine EU countries including France, Italy and Spain called on the bloc to agree on a “common debt instrument” to raise funds to support the health industry in combating the coronavirus, as well as the broader economies, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

EU leaders will hold a third video conference on coronavirus on Thursday. The letter, dated March 25, comes after euro zone ministers did not agree on eurobond joint debt issuance on Tuesday but said the euro zone’s ESM bailout fund would extend precautionary credit lines as a safety cushion.

“We need to work on a common debt instrument issued by a European institution to raise funds on the market,” said the letter.

“This common debt instrument should have sufficient size and long maturity to be fully efficient and avoid roll-over risks now as in the future,” said the letter to the chairman of EU leaders, European Council President Charles Michel.

The letter - also signed by the leaders of Portugal, Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Belgium and Greece - also called the bloc to “explore other tools like a specific funding for corona-related spending in the EU budget” for 2020 and 2021.

Reporting by Andrey Khalip, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Andrew Heavens

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