The breakthrough was a surprise to many EU diplomats who had thought Germany might fail to convince sufficient countries to join the plan, which has been in the works for two years.
After diplomatic pressure from Berlin overnight, Spain and Italy agreed at a meeting of EU finance ministers in Luxembourg that they would support the measure. Slovakia and Estonia said they would throw their weight behind it too.
That raised to 11 the number of EU countries prepared to push ahead with the proposal, exceeding the threshold of nine required under EU law to move ahead with legislation using a process called enhanced cooperation. Once nine of the countries have formally notified the European Commission of their commitment in writing, the Commission will begin drafting the law.