If you read some of the news about Italy's turning down of some of the parts of the covid loan/rescue package, a number of sites have the same exact quote.

Analysts said the measures had helped peripheral bond spreads, but without meaningful steps towards fiscal union in the longer term, upward pressure on the borrowing costs of weaker states would return.

What is the meaning behind meaningful steps towards fiscal union and who originated it? What would be such steps? Is the intent to lump say German debt with Italian debt? On covid only, via some firewall mechanism or special-purpose bonds? Or a more general budgetary/fiscal union?

(note: my user handle aside, I am not in the least bit Italian, so I'm definitely not speaking on their behalf).

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    And I'm not seeing that phrase you quoted having any wider use than a recent Reuters story that got syndicated. So it means whatever the person who wrote it wants it to mean. Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 8:04
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    @Fizz fair enough. I have only recently started using Reuters, mostly due to their lack of bias (compared to say CNN) and totally forgot how much they are syndicated, leading to an apparent multiplicity of coverage which is nothing of the sort. Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 16:17

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While I can't pretend to know what the author of the quote in the question intended precisely, the top level of the wikipedia article on Fiscal Union gives just three main points. Unified tax policy, central set expenditure and collective debt issues via Eurobonds.

If fiscal union were to happen, national expenditure and tax rates would be set at European Council level. There would be Eurobonds instead of individual national bonds that would finance collective Euro debt.

Without implementing each of these points, the others are impossible or at least very difficult. The author seems to be suggesting that there is little point easing the borrowing pressure on countries such as Italy in the short term as without a long term plan for sharing the borrowing burden the cost of debt is going to rise again. And without a plan for centralising tax and expenditure rules, there is not going to be any move towards shared debt issuing that is seen as rewarding poor long term fiscal behaviour by the poorer southern Euro countries.

There seems to be a fair number of opinion pieces about this floating around at the moment. Guardian, Financial Times and OpenDemocracy popped to the top of my search list.

The FT summation for/against distills to this paragraph.

The danger that southern Europeans will feel abandoned by the north has to be set against the risk that northern Europeans will, at some later date, feel exploited by the south. The Italians and the Spanish rightly resent being caricatured as lazy, spendthrift southerners. But the opposite caricature of the rich, egotistical, arrogant northerners is also unfair — particularly when it is larded with references to Nazism and accusations of immorality.

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