The Express, April 23rd
Barney Reynolds, a partner at Shearman and Sterling LLB, warned a specific, cast-iron pledge agreed between the two parties to use ‘best endeavours’ meant Michel Barnier and his fellow EU negotiators had no excuse not to continue to work towards a deal by December 31 – suggesting failure to do so would permit the UK to “walk away”. Today’s European Council meeting in Brussels is likely to be a tense affair, with leaders of the EU27 due to discuss a 500billion euro package of measures aimed at mitigating the disease’s impact. Bitter divisions exist between countries in the south, especially Italy, which believe the plan does not go far enough and are pushing for a system of eurobonds nicknamed coronabonds, which will spread the cost across the bloc rather than imposing it on individual countries, and countries in the north, such as Germany and the Netherlands, who are opposed to the idea of debt mutualisation.
Mr Reynolds suggested the net result would be an attempt to “kick the can down the road”.
He explained: “I think there will be further purchases of eurozone member debt by the ECB, and possibly some common EU budgetary response to the crisis, which involves communal money being used somewhat, but clearly not in a way that creates meaningful mutualisation of debts between eurozone member states.
“This is unlikely to be up to the scale of the problem at all.
“So there might be a little bit more money that is lent to the southern eurozone and I suppose if you are in the south you pocket that money and wait to fight another day in a month or two months or whenever, when you are clear how much you need.
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