Governments can aid companies and temporarily exceed EU deficit limits without fear of punishment from Brussels to combat the economic fallout of coronavirus, the European Commission said Friday.
“We will do whatever is necessary to support the Europeans and the European economy,” President Ursula von der Leyen said today. She said €37 billion from the EU budget would be redirected to help keep countries’ healthcare, companies and households afloat.
Italy, where coronavirus has hit hardest outside of China, will get as much flexibility as it needs under budget rules to stabilize its economy, despite its high public debt of about 132 percent of its economic output.
“Governments may need to give state aid at a much larger scale,” Commission competition czar Margrethe Vestager said at a news conference alongside von der Leyen. “This is the case in Italy. The situation in more and more member states is going in the same direction.”
The antitrust chief also said she would create a specific guide for how countries can use state aid to act quickly.
Eurozone stock prices have rebounded from Thursday’s meltdown.
Lili Bayer and Hannah Brenton contributed reporting.
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