March 16, 2020 / 8:06 AM / 16 days ago

Coronavirus will send EU spiraling into recession in 2020: EU's Breton

PARIS (Reuters) - The coronavirus pandemic will plunge the European Union into recession this year, the EU’s internal market Commissioner Thierry Breton said, estimating the bloc’s economy risked a 2-2.5% hit.

The outbreak has snarled global supply chains, prompted numerous countries to close their borders and led to governments ordering citizen lockdowns in Italy and Spain, with Europe the new epicenter of the outbreak.

“Obviously we are expecting a recession during the year 2020,” Breton told BFM Business radio.

“We are at war with the virus. An economic war.”

France has led calls for a massive and coordinated fiscal stimulus in Europe. So far most economic measures to cushion the blow have been taken at a national level.

“Before the crisis we were (expecting) around 1.4% (economic) growth for the whole continent, now we expect a negative impact of between 2% and 2.5%,” he added.

Euro zone finance ministers were due to speak later on Monday to coordinate their responses to the economic fallout from the outbreak.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Bate Felix and Leigh Thomas

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