Financial crisis 'on steroids' looms for EU leaders

"Sixteen hours in a virtual meeting and virtually nothing was achieved," said one Spanish diplomat, who spoke of an exhausting EU video conference all too reminiscent of the days of the Greek financial crisis. This time though, in the words of a Danish colleague, "it appears to be a financial crisis, on steroids". A deep, deep recession is looming across the EU as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The all-nighter into Wednesday, pulled by the EU's 27 finance ministers, was supposed to provide a financial solution to help shield the worst-hit countries. They were supposed to pass on the good news to their bosses, and in a matter of days EU leaders would sign off on a new recovery fund in an extraordinary video summit. At five o'clock in the morning though, they gave up the ghost. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told colleagues: "As we count the deaths of hundreds and thousands, you ministers are playing with words and adjectives. It shames finance ministers, and it shames Europe." What choices do they have? There had been several proposals on the table worth billions for countries to access emergency funds. One proposal by the Spanish and Italians was dubbed "coronabonds": debt or IOUs backed by all members of the eurozone - a collective responsibility.The Dutch aren't having any of that. They want member states to be responsible for their own debt and didn't "budge an inch", according to Italian officials. For now, that looks to be a non-starter. The best idea being put forward is from the French, where all 27 EU governments could access a recovery fund, which can be paid back in the distant future. Again, it was the Dutch that asked for repayment conditions to be progressively applied. Italy, though, refuses to sign up to another strict debit plan. One notable change from meetings gone by was that there appeared to be no lead player in the room. Germany uncharacteristically chose not to take that dominant position and was eager to compromise. The ministers meet again on Thursday, screen to screen. trying to find a balance between funding that doesn't exclude the idea of countries sharing the debt, but doesn't commit to it either. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-52221259
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Why China's claims of success raise eyebrows

China has reported no new deaths from coronavirus anywhere in the country, for the first time since the beginning of the outbreak. But as the BBC's Robin Brant writes, there are lingering questions over how far these figures, and therefore China's narrative on the outbreak, can be trusted. For months now, every morning at 03:00, officials in China have put together the latest figures on the spread of the virus to share with the world. As of 7 April, it had recorded 81,740 cases and 3,331 deaths. The country where the virus emerged has received praise for its handling of the crisis. World Health Organization Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hailed China for the "speed with which [it] detected the outbreak" and its "commitment to transparency". But despite those warm words from the WHO, there is considerable and persistent doubt about the official statistics and claims of success. Last week, senior British government minister Michael Gove told the BBC "some of the reporting from China was not clear about the scale, the nature, the infectiousness of the virus". US President Donald Trump also said last week that the reported death toll and infections seemed "a little bit on the light side". And for some time US lawmakers have accused China of under-reporting the scale of the outbreak. As cases rise across the world - the US has already far outstripped reported Chinese cases and deaths - some appear to be looking to China for answers on how to "flatten the curve". But there is growing concern that China is not being entirely honest about the extent of its infections and deaths. This mistrust is partly about history - and partly about a lack of clarity that inevitably breeds mistrust. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-52194356  
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Video Coronavirus: The Italians struggling to feed their families

People in Italy have been living under strict lockdown conditions for a month now and, with many unable to earn any money in this time, some have run out of savings. While its government has agreed to pay part of people’s wages, payments are yet to arrive. The BBC’s Europe correspondent Jean Mackenzie has been to meet some of the Italians who can no longer afford to buy food. Produced by Sara Monetta, filmed and edited by Andy Smythe. https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-europe-52205159/coronavirus-the-italians-struggling-to-feed-their-families
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