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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Europe came one step closer to the long-held dream of fiscal union this week, as both France and Germany signed on to the idea of the EU itself — rather than member states — raising money on the bond market that could then be spent on crisis relief.

Flashback: In April, I praised a Spanish proposal that the EU issue €1.5 trillion in perpetual bonds and then give the proceeds to the member states most hurt by the pandemic. The problem was that while Spain would be a net winner from the scheme, none of the net losers seemed inclined to sign on.

Driving the news: The proposal from France and Germany is similar, if smaller, at €500 billion ($550 billion). Still, it would constitute an unprecedented transfer from Europe's richest countries to those most in need.

  • Reality check: All 27 EU member states, including fiscally hawkish nations like the Netherlands and Austria, would need to agree in order for this to become a reality. But up until now, Angela Merkel's Germany would also have been considered to be in that group.

What they're saying: "Ms. Merkel, in the twilight of her long political career, has put the interests of the 27-nation union" before her domestic concerns, writes Steven Erlanger of the New York Times.

The bottom line: The U.S. monetary union only works because it allows and accepts massive one-way fiscal flows from the rich states to the poorer ones. (New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has had some choice words on that subject of late.) If the European monetary union is to succeed, similar flows between states are likely to be necessary.

Go deeper

Aug 12, 2020 - Technology

EU-U.S. privacy rift leaves businesses in disarray

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Some businesses fear growing liability while others worry that small and mid-sized firms will get hurt as the U.S. and Europe begin work to replace Privacy Shield, the pact that let thousands of firms transfer data across the Atlantic without breaking EU privacy rules.

Why it matters: Without a replacement in place after the EU's high court struck Privacy Shield down last month, thousands of businesses will be stuck complying with an agreement that no longer applies in the EU while scrambling to figure out how to get data over from Europe without exposing themselves to legal risks.

Ohio special election win cements Jim Clyburn’s kingmaker status

Jim Clyburn. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Rep. Jim Clyburn is cementing his Biden-era kingmaker status with Shontel Brown's win in Ohio,  showing progressives he has a finger on the pulse of Democratic Party politics in a way they must acknowledge.

Driving the news: "I was going to stay right here in South Carolina minding my business until I got called stupid,” Clyburn told Axios in an interview Wednesday.

Manhattan, Westchester prosecutors request evidence from Cuomo investigation

Gov. Cuomo during a press conference in New York City on Aug. 2. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The district attorneys for Manhattan and Westchester County on Wednesday requested evidence related to New York Attorney General Letitia James' investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), according to a letter obtained by NBC News.

Why it matters: The district attorneys are investigating if alleged conduct highlighted in an independent report published by James' office that occurred in their jurisdictions was criminal in nature.