FILE PHOTO: European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde addresses a news conference on the outcome of the meeting of the Governing Council in Frankfurt, Germany, January 23, 2020. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The head of the European Central Bank Christine Lagarde asked euro zone finance ministers at a videoconference on Tuesday evening to seriously consider a one-off joint debt issue of “coronabonds” to help fight the epidemic, two officials said.
“She said that we should seriously think about it, next to the use of the ESM (bailout fund) instruments. The Eurogroup did not discuss debt mutualization at this stage,” one official involved in the meeting said.
A second official confirmed that Lagarde put forward the idea, but said it ran into opposition from Germany, the Netherlands and other northern European countries that have long been against any joint debt issuance.
“She clearly said it should be a ‘one-off’ issuance,” the second official involved in the meeting said.
“There was opposition from the usual corners, but also a lot of support beyond Club Med,” the official said, referring to southern European countries.
Reporting by Jan Strupczewski, editing by Louise Heavens