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Finland rejects joint EU debt to fight corona crisis

The Eurogroup meeting aimed at finalising measures to fight the crisis ended without agreement on Wednesday morning.

Valtiovarainministeri Katri Kulmuni.
Finland’s Finance Minister Katri Kulmuni on Tuesday 7 March 2020. Image: Laura Kotila / Valtioneuvoston kanslia

Finland remains opposed to joint debt instruments in the eurozone despite pressure from some countries to bring in so-called ‘coronabonds’ to help countries stimulate the economy as it enters recession.

Several media reported that the marathon meeting was more difficult than expected.

Finland’s Finance Minister Katri Kulmuni was tight-lipped about the meeting as she arrived at the House of the Estates in Helsinki for talks with coalition partners on the Finnish budget.

"The Eurogroup meeting went through the night and continues," said Kulmuni.

Soon after that, the chair of the Eurogroup Mário Centeno tweeted that talks had ended after 16 hours of discussions.

Kulmuni was asked if it was true that Finland formed part of a block of countries opposed to joint debt instruments, along with Austria and the Netherlands.

"Of course Finland has a few red lines, like all countries," said Kulmuni. "That has been a shared understanding from one parliament to the next, that we don’t support joint debt and every country takes responsibility for its own economic policy."

Parliament’s Grand Committee sets parameters for Finnish leaders in EU matters, and it has consistently opposed joint debt instruments.

It’s most recent meeting was earlier this week, when MPs stuck to the same line it has held for the last decade.

The Eurogroup meeting will continue on Thursday, with countries in the Eurozone asked to agree a package of measures worth around 500 billion euros to fight the recession started by the coronavirus pandemic.

The biggest bone of contention is the proposal to increase joint debt in the Eurozone, possibly via issuance of so-called ‘coronabonds’.

This dispute pits southern European countries including Italy against Holland, Finland and Austria.

"We don’t support joint debt, I can say that much," said Kulmuni on Wednesday morning.

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