EU leaders push for eurozone budget funding solutions

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union leaders urged the 19 member states that use the euro to quickly figure out how they would fund a eurozone budget, which would seek to stabilize the economy and strengthen the currency.

The idea of a eurozone budget championed by French President Emmanuel Macron was discussed last week by EU finance ministers, who agreed on the principles of a spending package for the 19-country eurozone.

But they have yet to come up with a clear plan. While France would like it to be substantial, other countries would prefer it to be small, fearing less money would then be allowed to the EU’s overall budget.

Amid resistance from the Netherlands, differences also remain on how the budget — which will be part of the overall EU budget — should be funded, whether through taxes or direct contributions from member states.

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The European Council in a statement Friday asked eurozone finance ministers “to report back swiftly on the appropriate solutions for financing,”

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the EU’s executive branch, said that the move “deepened” the bloc’s economic and monetary union, hailing its emergence from years of crisis to become “stronger than ever.”

Mario Centeno, who heads the eurogroup, a gathering of eurozone finance ministers, said devising a funding scheme will be a focus for the rest of the year.

France said last week’s deal was just a first step and wants the new tool to be quickly implemented.

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