“Unprecedented urgency” sees Eurogroup convene via video conference

Europe’s ministers of finance are all meeting today, via video conference, to agree measures designed to mitigate the economic impact of the Covid-19 outbreak impelling the world towards a global recession.

As Portugal’s ‘financial Ronaldo’ Mário Centeno – tipped to take over at the Bank of Portugal, but now almost certainly glued to his role leading Portugal’s finances for a while longer – this is a crisis without precedent in the eurozone. It will need “a sense of urgency and coordination effort” that is also unprecedented.

Tweeting in English and Portuguese last night, Centeno – who also heads the Eurogroup – said: “Europe must respond vigorously to this enormous threat to our society. Tomorrow at 15.00 (Central European time) I will lead a video call with EU finance ministers on our response to the spread of the coronavirus”.

Countries that are not part of the eurozone will also be taking part in the call as it has been widely accepted now that the effects of Covid-19 will take Europe into a period of ‘negative growth’.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, described the bloc’s growth on Friday as ‘deteriorating rapidly’.

Announcing a €37 billion tranche of funding to bolster health sectors and small and medium sized businesses, von der Leyen accepted that the commission “has to adapt” to what is happening “in a very significant way”.

Portugal is said to be likely to get around €1.8 billion euros of this €37 billion ‘cake’.

Updates to follow.

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