The European quartet made up of Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland continue to hold out and the countries of the south continue to see the clock ticking and this time it will not be as easy to win them over as on previous occasions. For the fourth time in the last month and a half, the heads of state and government of the European Union have met by videoconference to try to reach an agreement on two issues: the instrument to channel EU aid to the states and how much of this colossal amount of money is to be returned and how much is to be, shall we say, written off.
You should be forewarned about the optimistic readings that many media will rush to make in order to assist the Spanish government. There is no half-full glass, since the quid of the question is not the mechanism and the measure, on which there does seem to be agreement and which will enable the recovery fund to be formed, but in how this money is accessed and what part of it will be transferred and what part will consist simply of loans that will have to be repaid within a certain period and under conditions that will undoubtedly be harsh. Putting the focus on the commitment to create the fund is nothing more than avoiding the real problem. Perhaps for this reason, Pedro Sánchez did not take part in the video connection, unlike his colleagues Merkel, Macron, Conte, etcetera, and instead delegated his foreign minister.
On Thursday it was verified that the eurobonds idea - the mutualisation of the debt across all the countries - has failed to gather momentum and it is beginning to be intuited that all countries are feeling pressured, and taking a broad and generous view is certainly difficult. If we add Denmark and Sweden to the four countries mentioned above, that is a very different Europe and better prepared to tackle the economic crisis, however tough and exceptional it may be. European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde told those taking part in the online meeting that although her scenario is a 9% fall in growth as a result of the pandemic, the eurozone could fall 15% and warned them that they were already leaving it late to reach agreements. These are terrifying figures.
It would be nice if the Spanish government told us the truth about the economic crisis coming in Spain and abandoned the path of promises and patch-ups. Spanish society deserves an explanation from its government such as that made by Merkel in Germany or Giuseppe Conte in Italy and a realistic horizon of hope, not a fairy tale like the one drawn by the Socialist spokespeople on too many occasions. It is hard to top the astonishing statements, for example, of Fernando Simón, the Spanish health ministry official who appears every day at a press conference: "The epidemic is progressing even better than we thought." That, after 22,313 deaths due to coronavirus and 440 in the past 24 hours, seems almost like a macabre joke.