Augusto Santos Silva said that "this is the time" for the European Union to issue 'eurobonds'.
Portugal’s minister of foreign affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, has in the runup to a crucial European Council meeting said that “this is the time” for the European Union to issue ‘eurobonds’ — debt issued under joint and several liability — as a means for all 27 member states to take on joint financing responsibilities.
“This is the time when the European Union and the member states must be clear in jointly assuming the financing responsibilities of the states so that they have the means to implement measures to support health systems, families and businesses,” Santos Silva said at the news conference that followed an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday of social partners – the government, unions and employers – in Lisbon, on the eve of Thursday afternoon’s virtual European Council.
Also dubbed ‘coronabonds’ because of the pandemic related to the new coronavirus, the new instruments would be public debt securities issued on behalf of the EU, and not by any individual state, to protect the more fragile countries from market speculation and very high interest rates.
Asked whether he believed a consensus was possible at Thursday’s European Council, after the stalemate on the issue at Tuesday’s Eurogroup meeting, Santos Silva pledged that “Portugal will actively fight” to ensure there is one.
“We believe that this European consensus is necessary, that Europe moves towards European solidarity in all areas, including this crucial area of financing for the response [to the health crisis] in health services and in support of business, employment, families, workers, people”, he said.
The minister referred to the letter sent earlier by Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, and eight other EU leaders to the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, calling for the launch of a common European debt issuance instrument to tackle the crisis caused by Covid-19, in stressing that these are “essential measures to improve the response capacity” of countries and, as such, “a step in the right direction”.