Europe cannot restart its economy until the threat of infection is reduced. Supply chains and trade in goods and services criss-cross back and forth over the EU’s internal borders and shutting those borders is causing chaos. The faster and more effectively all European countries implement social distancing measures (alongside testing, contact tracing, and disease surveillance), the sooner we can get everyone’s economy up and running again.

However, people need money to wait out the disease. If they don’t have money, then their choice is – bluntly – to either ignore social distancing measures and go back to work or to starve. According to that remorseless logic, it makes sense for economically-stronger EU Member States to support their neighbours financially. Wealthier EU countries cannot restart their economies as long as borders are shut and infection persists elsewhere in Europe.

What would that financial support look like? There are various options available. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has called for “coronavirus bonds” to be issued, effectively pooling debt within the European Union. The idea to create common Eurozone debt was also floated during the 2011 sovereign debt crisis, though the “corona bonds” would theoretically be one-off instruments to fight the immediate economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Germany and the Netherlands have been leading opposition to joint EU bonds, fearing a significant moral hazard if they are introduced. They no doubt worry that such bonds would become a permanent feature of the Eurozone (as Jean Monnet, “father of Europe”, wrote in his memoirs: “Europe will be forged in crises, and will be the sum of the solutions adopted for those crises”).

Should richer EU member states bail out poorer ones? You can quibble over the words “bail out” but, however you phrase it, that’s the essential question. As Commission President Ursula von der Leyen put it: “The word corona bond is really just a slogan… Behind it, though, there is the larger question of guarantees. And there, the concerns in Germany, but also in other countries, are justified.”

That same tension was on display when Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank, clumsily asserted that the ECB was “not here to close spreads”. Her policy was swiftly overturned when the ECB announced an additional €750 billion of Quantitative Easing. Could northern reticence to the idea of corona bonds similarly be overturned?

Should richer EU member states bail out poorer ones? Is it time for ‘corona bonds’? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts!

Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🎞 on Unsplash


96 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Γεώργιος

    Only reason for EUs existence

    • avatar
      Lisa

      Are you kidding me? The only reason for EU’s existence is countries bailing eachother out? That actually was never part of the plan. The reasons for the EU are: preventing war within Europe, increasing economic benefits for member states by creating a common market, increasing Europe’s geopolical influence by forming a big united block and joining forces in tackling worldwide issues such as climate change etc.

  2. avatar
    Patricia

    alll for one and one for all – I thought that was part of the ethos of the EU

    • avatar
      Christian

      As reiterated by Ursula

  3. avatar
    Constantinescu

    What kind of question is it!? You think Eu exist only for the Bruxelles employees salaries?

  4. avatar
    George

    Shouldn’t EU put people first?
    So far Russia and China have been the ones bailing the people out, all that while EU is concerned with a PR war against them.
    Germany even showed a picture of a plane with 50 seats to counter the 10 military cargo planes with help that came from Russia.
    And all those PR nonsense of China-produced masks (not those send by their government) were not to EU’s standards, which apparently work well in China, as they contained the virus in 50 days.

    • avatar
      Aubrey

      1. I’d like to see some proof of your contentions. 2. Cosmetic masks are generally agreed to be broadly defined ineffective, so drawing the conclusion that the official reports of flatlining is down to them is a logical fallacy.

    • avatar
      Christian

      do you prefer swallowing propaganda to searching for facts?

    • avatar
      Alex

      Unlike Russia who keeps spreading their BS on all chanels including RT all over the place, Germany does not do that. It was the Bundeswehr chanel who published pictures of their equipment and it was mostly bloggers spreading the pictures over the internet. I didn’t see any of the pictures on a German TV outlet yet. We unlike other people don’t have to make propaganda telling ourselves how important we are. That’s more of a Russian obsession, beeing perceived as beeing of any importance to the world. We don’t have that

  5. avatar
    Riccardo

    What do you mean ‘poorer ones’? Italy and France are net contributors to the EU’s budget, and major economies in their own right, and Spain too. They have now been hit by a crisis not of their own making, and if the EU cannot help them, then what is its purpose? They need to use expansionist policies to restart the economy and they shall do it, regardless of any 3% artificial thresholds. Unusual times require unusual measures.

  6. avatar
    Aris

    if the Southern members fall then the Nothern wealthy members will fall too. Our economies are deeply connected to each other.

  7. avatar
    Olivier

    I think that Germany is the biggest beneficiary from EU with a bigger share of industry than before.. And could pay more…

    • avatar
      Christian

      Help and solidarity in periods of great danger cannot be conditional

    • avatar
      Olivier

      es you are right.. But it s a fact that Germany takes advantage of EU more than other countries well because they are working more and are well organized.. They can afford a strong Euro. South countries would be better with a weaker euro.. Any way this Europe could not work without a common tax and social policy

  8. avatar
    Hugo

    If 2 people go for lunch to the restaurant only the richer pays?

    • avatar
      Paulo

      If the rich is making money from the poor, then is more than fair.

    • avatar
      Hugo

      why fair? Work is work, beer is beer. Are really the northern countries making money with the help of the southern countries? Or are the northern countries more responsible than the southern that only spend money in “wine and women” (in a figurative example) I see the northern as the Ant and the southern as the grasshopper.

    • avatar
      Victor

      Hugo Dias don’t be so naif, in our case we’ve been in EU and since the begining they’ve paid to destroy our productive engine specially in the sea economy and agriculture, today we depend a lot from external markets even for basic stuff, as you should know with the tipology of our economy it’s currently extremelly dificult to balance our balance of trade which is essential to have less debt… basically they’ve paid to get a consumer.
      https://www.cep.eu/…/cepStudy_20_years_Euro_-_Winners…

    • avatar
      Victor

      Obviously we need to chnage that, and the solution is through education but unfortunately we need decades to be able to change the profile of our economy. You can’t expect that after 5 years of a recent crisis and living a new one the country would be able to be in good shape, it’s unrealistic.

    • avatar
      Hugo

      why not? Didn’t Ireland recover? And other countries? And if the Portugal didn’t had the huge increase on taxes to pay for the benefits of some of them? If Portugal did not buyed tap again? Now we have a huge deficit because this government increased the current expenses with money from the tourism receipts and not from stable economy. Now we need to pay the invoice of 5 lost years in the recovery of the country. Don’t forget… 56% of the voters choose this path, now they should pay for their vote.

    • avatar
      Victor

      you don’t know anything about economy, forget I’m wasting my time

    • avatar
      Paulo

      I have to do the same. It’s incredible how the elites can brainwash the bottom ones to think they are the ones to blame for the world inequality

    • avatar
      Paulo

      Communism is the new witch work, you just need to shout and point at people. What is socialism? For Americans entire Europe is socialist just because we have paid sick leave and vacations, a national health system, etc. I don’t see Europe living in poverty, in reality Europeans have by far a better quality of live that Neoliberal USA. Neoliberals = bankruptcy and detah. Yes, I prefer and will fight for European way of life. If you want to call it socialism, then I’m very happy with socialism

    • avatar
      Hugo

      for me socialism is steal from Ants to give to Grasshoppers.

    • avatar
      Alex

      That example is bad, because with Eurobonds it’s even worse. With eurobonds the person who was invited will order more and more and more and more until eternity or until it bursts while the person who pays will just have to accept it. A one time payment for lunch or for the corona crisis is perfectly ok. But eurobonds mean that poorer states will order more and more and more and richer ones won’t have another choice but paying, what was ordered FOREVER

    • avatar
      Hugo

      probably because I listen to people who really knows about economy and not people who thinks that socialism and communism is a good model, even with the proof that didn’t work anywhere else. Socislism=poverty

  9. avatar
    Miguel

    Disgusting title. It is not about rich or poor. It is about should you help your neighbour to avoid people dying? Shame on EU, China is doing better for us. Hospitals are overcrowded and people dying. SHAME ON EUROPE. Can you stop talking about money and speak about lives?. Sourh Europe lives MATTER

    • avatar
      Brian

      You contradict yourself. You are aware of that?

    • avatar
      Liz

      disgusting title, yes! Don’t confuse this page called “debating Europe” with EU. Here, everyone can come and ask stupid questions, nothing to do with the real EU.

    • avatar
      Alex

      I agree in so far as that we Germans need to help save as many Italian and French lifes as possible. Spain unfortunately migth just be to far away for us. It would be the job of neighbouring regions of western France who should help treat your patients. It doesn’t mean you can’t talk about both cause corona will cause bye which some cauntries will be more affected. There is a need for discussion how we will share the burden once the virus has passed it’s peak.

    • avatar
      Christian

      Instead of repeating and swallowed Chinese and Russian propaganda, check out the EU sites on the corona virus. Then you could correct the wrong information you posted and be useful

  10. avatar
    Anatilde

    If we do it with African countries, we should do it with our own.

  11. avatar
    Ivan

    Should pour countries keep buying German produkts after the virus?

  12. avatar
    Apostolis

    Unfortunately the title that you have selected is outdated (to put it kindly). It is as if you are using it as a click bait. We are not in 2009, when the then PIGS requested economic assistance from their counterparts and in return apart from money they received humiliation. Nowadays it is something entirely different. The Corona bonds will not be issued by the so called wealthy north, but from a group of countries with explicit terms. If the nations that right now resist to an idea like that and at the same time they demand a memorandum of understanding identical to those of Greece and Portugal back in 2010, they are out of reality. The problem is pan – European. If that “solidarity” test fails once again, then no one should wonder why nationalism rises and why Europe as an idea is simply a joke for the majority of citizens.

    • avatar
      Lisa

      Sure, Eurobonds will be issued from a group of countries, but everybody knows it will be the Northern countries who will be repaying all of these loans in the end. Since the debt burden on Southern countries was already dangerously high going into this crisis, they will simply not be able to repay even more debt. And that’s the big worry for Northern countries: these countries will have debt on their balance sheet that they don’t control themselves. In keeping their balance sheet healthy, they will be at the mercy of other countries. They don’t control how much debt will be taken on or how much of it will be repaid by the receiving countries, but still have to carry the responsibility. That is an impossible thing to ask, and has nothing to do with solidarity. Also politically it is a completely unfeasible option. Nationalism and populism is not only a southern european problem. Northern European voters grew up in a culture where risk avoidance, financial prudence and control are very important values and piling up debt is almost a mortal sin. Force their political leaders to agree with Eurobonds, and voters will go running into the arms of anti-EU populist parties. We have to find another way to help each other out, because introducing eurobonds will unevitably lead to one or two northern countries leaving the EU.

    • avatar
      Lisa

      Sure, Eurobonds will be issued from a group of countries, but everybody knows it will be the Northern countries who will be repaying all of these loans in the end. Since the debt burden on Southern countries was already dangerously high going into this crisis, they will simply not be able to repay even more debt. And that’s the big worry for Northern countries: having debt on their balance sheet that they don’t control themselves. In keeping their balance sheet healthy, they will be at the mercy of other countries. They don’t control how much debt will be taken on or how much of it will be repaid by the receiving countries, but still have to carry the responsibility. That is an impossible thing to ask, and has nothing to do with solidarity. Also politically it is a completely unfeasible option. Nationalism and populism is not only a southern european problem. Northern European voters grew up in a culture where risk avoidance, financial prudence and control are very important values and piling up debt is almost a mortal sin. Force their political leaders to agree with Eurobonds, and voters will go running into the arms of anti-EU populist parties. We have to find another way to help each other out, because introducing eurobonds will unevitably lead to one or two northern countries leaving the EU.

  13. avatar
    Marco

    They should. But only after southern states suggest and enact reasonable reforms

    • avatar
      Alex

      I agree with this. They should also be temporarily limited until the crisis is over. So no eurobonds only money that was put into EU funds bye richer countries to support countries that need it now.

    • avatar
      Christian

      Help and solidarity in periods of great danger cannot be conditional

    • avatar
      Esquito

      agreed. For example in Portugal the money that comes from the european union is used by governments to fund new and existing business. And there are lots of companies specializing in creating the applications for this funds, so the money is only given to companies that use it for personal gains. They pay workers a miserable salary, demand them to ait in offices or factoris doing non productive work, and pocket the most of it.

    • avatar
      Ana

      Is it so, Esquisito?

    • avatar
      Esquisito

      yes it is. I know many companies who helped pastry shops get 20.000€ invest in their international expansion or digital presence, and what they do is build a website for 2.000€, make a video for 500€ and pocket more than 18.000€. They contact businesses directly with this proposals, give them a website and video for free, and they make the application for them.
      you don’t believe or you never heard of this before?
      And this is the 20.000€ limit funds, the same happens with the big ones. The people approving the investments over 100.000€ only approve their friends business proposal, and buy a new car every year.

    • avatar
      Ana

      The application of European funds is subject to multiple verification and audit bodies that go to the European Court of Auditors. In addition to that, the majority of the applications require co-financing. The monitoring network has been tightened from each European support framework for the following. There are always people who are available to commit crimes like the ones you heard and say but those were the exception and not the rule! And now that you know these cases, why didn’t you report them to who is right?

  14. avatar
    Panayiotis

    yes, otherwise they will loose the customers for ever

  15. avatar
    Diarmuid

    When it suits the EU, we are all separate nations to be divided up along lines such as rich an poor etc. Then in a different situation, we’re all Europeans and should no think of ourselves as separate nations.
    Also “EU” can anyone tell me what the “U” stands for.

  16. avatar
    Chris

    Not for the tax payers in the richer ones but I can see the appeal for net receivers

    • avatar
      Christian

      So what’s your idea of solidarity ? Only of it costs you nothing?

    • avatar
      Riccardo

      Italy is a net contributor to the EU budget and always has been. It is not demanding handouts but the ability to implement policies which will exceed the deficit in order to re-start the economy

    • avatar
      Chris

      I don’t belive on the eu, we are all sovereign nations. I’m British and voted to be free of the EU gravy train

    • avatar
      Ana

      So why are you expressing such an interest on EU internal affairs?

    • avatar
      Chris

      keeping my eye out for the collapse of the euro and the eu

    • avatar
      Ana

      what an enlightening demonstration of your good character! You broke yours compromises, you went away, and you wish to all of us who remained all the worst!

    • avatar
      Chris

      not the people of Europe just the awful mafia that is the eu

    • avatar
      Ana

      there is not “us” and “them”. Not all of “them” are crooks, not all os “us” are victims! This is a very primitive vision of the world and this is also why we are so ineffective in fighting corruption! Reality is much more complex – and interesting, by the way – and can’t be portrayed in black and white!

    • avatar
      Chris

      yeah I’d rather just be out of it, while thing was a scam to steal tax payer money

    • avatar
      Christian

      I think you fail to understand how the EU works. Your ignorance as to tge functioning of the Euro management system is even more evident. The point if EUROPE is to discuss problems and solve them without violence. Thst doesn’t mean everyone agrees. It doesn’t mean there aren’t strong disagreements. It doesn’t mean one or two major economies dominate. The French Italian and Soanish economies are much larger than that of the netherlands and count as much in both in ensuring the stability of the Euro and indeed contribute more to the EU budget. The present row is as to the choice of instruments to be used to restart the EU economy post corona. 9 members of the eurozone propose the mutualisation of virus engendered debt by tge issue of eurobonds. Germany considers that a) such an instrument is irreconcilable with its constitution. This may be questionable but I am not a specialist of German constitutional law. It therefore proposes the use of the stabalisation mechanism which is unacceptable to Spain or Italy. The discussion really involves a philosophical choice between deeper fiscal and political union within the eurozone or status quo which would in the short to medium term lead to demise.

  17. avatar
    Sophie

    The south always demands handouts!

    • avatar
      Christian

      So what’s your idea of solidarity ? Only of it costs you nothing?

    • avatar
      Charlotte

      eEurope should protect their democratic ideals and be clear about what our common identity is… Should be cristal clear and abandon every state that abuses power such as Orban in Hungary and should have pressured Berlusconi ages before when he started using media to stay in power and dumb down the people etc… but clearly there is no clear vision as to what it means to be European and narcissistic dictators disguised as democratic persons have free reign…..

  18. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    Is it time for ‘corona bonds’?

    Another way to disguise the imbalance of the EU financial system, whatever the cause? Why not “donkey bonds”?

    Nations debt has to be repaid by all who do not avoid, but pay their tax diligently= the donkeys!

    If the EU would be a very close-knit family, all members would act as close families’ do- with understanding, compassion & generosity!

    It is not the case between nations, EU members, the US or China. That is where a nation’s generosity ends and capitalist philanthropists could take over.

    Those who amassed enormous wealth during the good times should feel obliged to turn to charity in bad times. Fair?

    Philanthrocapitalism & tax-free havens to the rescue!

    Why not call on all Capitalist philanthropists and other mega-rich families in the EU to show compassion & donate generously.

    Consider an EU “Compassion fund”= Donations.

  19. avatar
    Alex

    Yes they should. But they also should have at least the freedom to decide not to. So no eurobonds

  20. avatar
    Filipe

    I don’t know if Eurobonds are the way to go or not, but it’s in every country best interest that the stronger countries help the weaker ones. The rich countries can only remain rich if they have a market. It’s not a bail out. It’s an investment.

  21. avatar
    Enric

    No, there are not poorer states, there are states that have dilapidated the money received from the EU, all toguether with their own money.

    • avatar
      Christian

      You make statements based on crass ignorance and nationalist bigotry. I think it is probably pointless to encourage you to learn facts before you write nonsense. It is unfortunately people with ideas such as yours that belittle Europe and indeed the human race.

    • avatar
      Ignazio

      Can you gives us examples of these states?

    • avatar
      Enric

      I think YOU are the ignorant because you just talk, but have not idea of the facts that promt some countries to vote against the bonovirus..

    • avatar
      Enric

      I,m speaking from Spanish point of view and, acording to the news, Italy is another one.

    • avatar
      Ignazio

      so that you know, Spain is a net beneficiary of EU funds, while Italy is a net contributor. So please, don’t put the two countries in the same category. Thanks.

    • avatar
      Enric

      I don’t know about Italy…I say, acording to the news.

    • avatar
      Filipe

      this is about saving lives. Please, save that financial mambo jambo for after the crisis.

    • avatar
      Enric

      To save lives they can help sending sanity material, but never give money.

  22. avatar
    Andrea

    I think germany should start paying back the ww2 war repayment she never had to pay.
    The eu is useful only for germany.

    • avatar
      Alex

      And I am not gonna be working until 72 and pay your debt via eurobonds, while the French pension entry age is 60 and will never become higher because you know as good as me that there is yellow wests, who would block all reforms. It’s stupid expeting for Germans to help France with Eurobonds while Germans work until 63 to have a balanced budget, while French work until 60 becomes Macron is afraid of yellow wests. Eurobonds or anything can only be accepted if southern Europe makes necessery reforms. Eurbonds means the French don’t want to work until 63? I will have to work until 67. The Greek don’t want reforms? Ok I have to work until 70. Italy wants no reforms? Ok I have to work until they burry me. Everyone else does nothing and we Germans will compensate it to create a balanced budget. Why? simple cause we’re financially responsible

  23. avatar
    Bruno

    rich EU states never bailed out poor ones, rich states bailed out their own banks and blamed poor states for the faults of the banks of rich states. From what we know from the financial crisis it all started with Deutsche Bank being affected by american subprime crisis and not telling anyone about it and then started to bully on Southern European Countries to repay their debts long before the maturities agreed, and that’s how southern european economies were raped by German banks And all we know now was thanks to the Americans they were honest and spoke, the German banks shut up their mouths and created all those problems without saying a word, cowards like always in History.

    • avatar
      Christian

      Not only do you think nonsense you print rubbish based on famse information and ridiculous ideology

    • avatar
      Bruno

      hich ideology? I am speaking about reality not your fantasies. How many American films about how they cheated Deutsche Bank? How about the trillions of Euros Deutsche Bank has in deadly derivates in USA, which produce billions of euros in losses every year? Who dares to punish Germans and Deutsche Bank for the humiliations they caused to other european countries? For when to shut down Deutsche Bank and file it for Bankrupcy instead of making the southern europeans suffer since then? No one has the balls to punish the Germans for what they did and how they behaved during the financial crisis.

    • avatar
      Christian

      if you look on my page you will see who I am. Unlike you who says nothing about yourself. Economists rarely, if ever get emotional about a subject. Like lawyers they need to be objective in analysing facts. You obviously are not so your claims dont support your ideas.

    • avatar
      Bruno

      arguments that contadict what I say? Do you have any? So far, you showed 0 Z-E-R-O arguments or facts that contradicts what I say. If I were you I should refrain from denigrating my arguments if you have nothing better, if you are a lawyer you’re typical liar so you judge others by what you normally do in life, to lie. By the way, we have a contact in common you may ask him about me in Brussels. After that I moved to Frankfurt. By the way, I am blocking you

  24. avatar
    Christian

    Source: American films. Need I say more?

  25. avatar
    Esquisito

    If you have the money to feed others, should you do it or let them die?

    • avatar
      Konstantinos

      if the others find out that you’re not going to stop feeding them, are they eventually going to try and feed themselves?

    • avatar
      Esquisito

      forget the north vs south european countries. do you think european countries that have taken advantage of Africa and it’s people (and still do) for hundreds of years, enslaved the people, should now have a role helping these countries develop? or should we let them feed themselves???

  26. avatar
    Andreas

    You have missed the entire ideology of Europe just by asking this question

  27. avatar
    Munteanu

    The strenght of a chain is equal to the strenght of his weekest link. So, yes

    • avatar
      Christian

      Get out of tge fog Mr Og

  28. avatar
    Zoltan

    Am I the only one left that yearns for that golden age when every nation was responsible for paying there own debts,
    how the hell did we ever get to this?.
    And don’t say it’s the price you have to pay for being in a union,this isn’t a union, it’s a freeloaders paradise.

  29. avatar
    Jolanta

    That was idea of EU no? And we even ask questios. Again Europe for rich not for people.

  30. avatar
    Brais

    Of course, European Union for all not only for save banks.

  31. avatar
    Lisa

    Should richer EU member states bail out poorer ones? Yes, for sure.
    Is it time for ‘corona bonds’? No. The states that do the bailing out should be able to choose the way they do that, since they have to sell this to their own tax payers. Eurobonds for now are a total political no go in the North. A strong aversion to indebtment is part of Northern European culture, and taking on responsability for debts that are not under our own full control is our worst nightmare. Eurobonds in our opinion would only be acceptable if all euro countries share the same fiscal and social policies. So same tax regime, same pension ages, same obedience to agreed fiscal rules etc. And we are still far far away from that.

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