April 8 (UPI) -- Efforts by European finance ministers to reach agreement on a coronovirus economic rescue package have broken down, the group's leader said Wednesday.
Mario Centeno, Portugal's finance minister and president of the Eurogroup, said on Twitter that after 16 hours of meetings Monday and Tuesday, negotiations among countries that use the euro had adjourned without an agreement.
"My goal remains: A strong EU safety net against fallout of COVID-19 (to shield workers, firms & countries) and commit to a sizable recovery plan," he added.
Centeno said negotiations will resume Thursday.
Arguably the greatest financial undertaking ever attempted by the Eurozone, the proposed relief package is aimed at preserving the EU's prized single market. It includes $109 billion to finance workers' protection efforts and $217 billion in loans from the European Investment Bank for ailing businesses.
Also part of the proposal are credit lines of up to $260 billion to member states from the European Stability Mechanism, an emergency fund established in 2012.According to experts, the Netherlands is opposed to terms of the national credit lines, believing they're likely to benefit poorer member nations with the largest deficits, such as Italy and Spain. The Dutch demanded that some fiscal conditions be attached to the bailouts.
The Netherlands has also expressed disapproval of "coronabonds" or "eurobonds," under which debt would be mutualized and all EU nations would be responsible for helping to pay them off.
Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra told an Amsterdam newspaper last week eurobonds "are more likely to increase rather than reduce risks for Europe in the long term.
"Eurobonds, in which all euro countries guarantee each other's national debts, do not fit into a union in which the member states all have their own budgets."