For the second month in a row, the European Commission's proposal to set up a common European recovery fund has stalled in disputes of principle and interpretation between member states.
The next attempt to find an agreement is the summit of the political leaders of the EU Council, the member states, in the middle of this month.
Germany, France and most of the southern and eastern net recipient countries are in favor of the fund, but most of the smaller net contributors in Germany, like Finland, are reluctantly skeptical.
Disagreement and ambiguity have emerged over almost all the key features of the stimulus fund - but money in particular.
One of the main contentious issues concerns the debt-based funding of the fund and, for example, whether the idea of the largest joint debt in the history of the Union to date is compatible with the Union's Treaties.
Another difficult point of contention concerns the use of the Fund's resources and, in particular, the proportion of the Fund's resources to be granted to Member States in the form of loans to be recovered in due course and the proportion of free grants to recipient countries.
In Finland, the largest part of the common peak
In the model proposed by the Commission, the fund's total capital of EUR 750 billion would be a new co-debt to be taken up by the EU.
This would be the largest debt in the history of the EU, with more than ten times the amount of debt liabilities in the Union's common spike.
According to the proposal, the fund would distribute EUR 500 billion in grants and EUR 250 billion in soft loans to Member States for economic recovery.
The attractiveness of large collective debt is based on the EU's very strong creditworthiness, which provides the EU with incomparably cheaper financing than the most indebted EU countries in particular would receive on their own behalf.
The creditworthiness of the EU champion class, on the other hand, is based, for example, on the fact that the Union already has a relatively low level of debt. And that the financial markets trust the strongest Member States, if necessary, to guarantee the repayment of the Union's debts, even on behalf of others.
In bond market reviews that assess the creditworthiness of the Union, Finland is also usually one of the countries that actually guarantees the EU's joint debt.
For this unofficial but still Finnish-relevant reason, it is entirely appropriate that the Commission's proposal to radically increase the Union's joint debt has been chewed more closely than usual in the Finnish Parliament as well.
In Finland, a good reason for hesitation
The Parliament's Committee on Constitutional Affairs has come to a position that casts doubt on the fund's debt structure, according to which the large joint debt planned for the fund may not be in line with the EU treaties.
The Legal Service of the Council of the EU, for its part, has assessed that it is possible to set up a fund on behalf of the Treaties, as long as it does not jeopardize the balance requirement of the EU budget.
The Commission's own interpretation of the EU's debt financing rules seems quite clear - but it hardly alleviates the difficulties of interpretation of the recovery structure's debt structure.
On its website, the Commission describes the features of EU funding, stating, inter alia, that "the EU can only become indebted to finance loans to member countries".
As recently as last month, the same Commission website also read that "the EU must not finance its own budget by borrowing". Now, this indebtedness-limiting specification has receded the least.
From the Commission's factsheets, it is easy to conclude that the EU can be indebted - but that the Union's common debt can only be distributed to the Member States in the form of loans and not grants.
Yet the same Commission is proposing a stimulus fund that would distribute the money borrowed by the EU to the Member States mainly in the form of grants and not loans.