Macron declares ‘war’ on coronavirus with billions to prop up economy

17 Mar 20

France is mobilising €45bn to help keep its economy afloat, the finance minister announced, after president Emmanuel Macron declared the country was “at war” with the coronavirus.


Bruno Le Maire said the crisis measures will go to companies, largely through delaying or cancelling tax payments and other contributions that were due this month.

This came after Macron announced the government would guarantee up to €300bn of bank loans to businesses.

In a speech addressed to French citizens, the president said he would focus all his efforts on containing the coronavirus and minimising its impact on the economy, pledging to delay work on his flagship economic reforms.

“We are at war. All the action of the government and the parliament must henceforth be turned towards the fight against the epidemic,” he said.

“Day and night, nothing else should keep us occupied. This is why I decided that all the reforms in progress shall be suspended, beginning with the pension reform.

He promised to extend existing emergency childcare arrangements for health workers, and said the state would pay for taxis and hotels to keep them working and comfortable.

And the military is being mobilised to help struggling health services, especially in the east of the country where the virus has become more prevalent.

An army field hospital in the Alsace region, near France’s borders with Germany and Switzerland, will be used for the public, and the army will also help transport patients away from the most affected areas, to relieve the burden on overstretched hospitals.

France’s announcements followed a meeting of euro area finance ministers, who discussed how to support their economies and the single currency.

Leader of the so-called ‘eurogroup’ Mário Centeno said the combined fiscal measures amount to about 1% of GDP, whereas liquidity measures - which include France’s loan guarantees and deferred tax payments - are about 10% of GDP.

He insisted that the EU’s fiscal rules, known as the Stability and Growth Pact, provide governments with enough flexibility to take the actions needed to fight the virus and its impacts.

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