AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Wednesday he would rather give a “gift” to European countries struggling financially over the coronavirus outbreak rather than issuing joint bonds or exploiting the European Union rescue fund.
During a debate in the Dutch parliament, Rutte said he hoped to restore diplomatic relations with Italy and Spain after being criticized for a perceived lack of empathy during conversations about the EU crisis. last week.
Rutte reiterated that the Netherlands opposed the idea of “coronabonds” as a form of debt sharing among EU members in response to the crisis. He said he would also prefer to set up a new support fund rather than having countries use the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
“If you do (support) the ESM, then it’s a loan and a loan has to be paid back,” he said. “If you’re doing it as a giveaway, then it’s, ‘Listen, you’ve been hit hard, but with a number of richer countries we’re prepared to bear the direct costs of the coronavirus crisis.’ “
Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Hugh Lawson