Macron and Merkel’s rescue fund: Europe’s Hamiltonian moment?

Forex

Germany and France have agreed to push for a €500bn EU fund to help member states combat the economic fallout of Covid-19. The proposal comes as EU leaders fail to reach a consensus over what form a rescue package should take.

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron have backed the scheme to support the Eurozone economy, which would be in the form of grants not loans.

The stimulus will be funded by the European Commission borrowing money – ‘coronabonds’ in all but name. The EC could borrow money from capital markets on behalf of all EU nations, secured against the next seven-year budget. The debt would mature after 2027.

This is an important breakthrough for the EU and has been dubbed Europe’s ‘Hamiltonian’ moment, in reference to Alexander Hamilton, who federalised the debts of the various US states in 1790.

This week on Wednesday EU President Ursula von der Leyen will present her plans, which will build on the Franco-German proposal.

If the budget talks are successful it should lower risk premia on EU sovereign debt, lowering bond yields and offering succour to the euro as well as to European equity markets.

It would also mark a major step towards EU fiscal policy coordination and possible fiscal union.

Will Eurozone members agree to rescue grants?

But it needs consensus and agreement from all the members of the common currency. Leaders struggled to agree an emergency funding package back in April, and the issue of how to support the recovery once the health crisis had passed was left alone.

Some nations have argued that making any rescue funding into a loan means saddling more debt on member states, like Italy and Spain, that are already struggling with their existing liabilities.

The ‘frugal four’ – Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden – are not playing ball with the French and Germans, putting forward a counterproposal to the €500bn bailout fund.

The four countries said they would not agree to a mutualization of debt, nor an increase in the EU budget.

Budget talks over the next few weeks will be crucial to the Eurozone and its economy.

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