Dutch prime minister proposes huge EU fund to help countries hardest hit by coronavirus
- Credit: Corbis via Getty Images
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has proposed a multibillion-euro European Union fund to help the countries whose healthcare systems have been hardest hit by Covid-19.
In an interview on Dutch TV, Rutte said: 'We are, of course, in solidarity with South Europe. There's no doubt about it.'
Rutte says the Dutch have 'taken the initiative to establish a fund in the form of gifts for countries that are economically weaker to help them with the health care costs of fighting the coronavirus'.
He expects the fund to reach 10-20 billion euros if other EU nations agree to it.
However, he also stressed that the Dutch still oppose issuing European debt to help hard-hit economies.
You may also want to watch:
'The Netherlands is against that for very many reasons - it doesn't fit into the euro system,' he said. 'Another thought that we have is that's what the European emergency fund ... is for.'
The proposed fund and Rutte's comments follow harsh criticism of the Dutch from southern European nations over the country's opposition to an issuance of joint European debt, known as coronabonds or eurobonds, and comments attributed to Dutch finance minister Wopke Hoekstra about Spain's ability to fund its medical response to the virus.
- 1 Piers Morgan must expose the government's Brexit betrayal
- 2 Public slams Brexit Party tweet which shames Tory MPs who voted against free school meals
- 3 Brexiteer Prue Leith quits Tory Party after government votes down motion to protect UK food standards
- 4 Peers set to remove law-breaking sections of Boris Johnson's Brexit bill
- 5 Boris Johnson 'frantically repositioning' himself for Donald Trump to lose election
- 6 UKIP set to select 'Dr Gammons' as candidate for London mayoral election
- 7 James Cleverly mocked after telling people to 'look at how they're doing in Wales'
- 8 Boris Johnson warned majority will be 'wiped out' over treatment towards north of England
- 9 Michel Barnier postpones Brussels return as Brexit trade talks in London continue
- 10 Minister says Dido Harding is working '19-hours a day' on Test and Trace
Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa last week called the comments 'repugnant'.
'Hoekstra and I have said we could have communicated in a more subtle way,' Rutte said.
Italian premier Giuseppe Conte said earlier this week he hoped the European Union would put together a cohesive response to the plight of countries like his, whose economy has been crippled by the coronavirus outbreak.
Conte vowed to fight for a 'strong and cohesive European response' and called the crisis 'an appointment with history. Europe must say if it's ready for this appointment' to effectively deal with social and economic shock wreaked by the pandemic.
Speaking in Paris, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire welcomed the proposal as a step in the right direction.
'This is I think a very positive signal,' Le Maire said. 'It's good news that everybody now in Europe is aware of the necessity of showing a strong and clear solidarity among member states.'
He added: 'There's one single political question: shall we stand together or not?' he said. 'Shall we stand together as a unified continent to face the long term and dramatic consequences of the economic crisis or shall we give to the world
the sad image of a continent divided between the north and the south?'
Become a Supporter
The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.