By Damon Mitchell • 18 May 2020 • 18:48
FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have announced a joint plan to boost EU recovery from the Covid crisis today, after weeks of debate over how to deploy billions of euros needed to end the recession.
In a joint video conference, Macron and Merkel called for the creation of a €500 billion recovery fund to offer grants to the countries and regions hardest hit by the health crisis.
The leaders of France and Germany also said they were proposing to authorise the European Commission to borrow money on financial markets in the European Union’s name, while at the same time respecting EU treaties.
Macron said this was the first time France and Germany agreed to let the EU raise debt jointly, calling this a “major step forward.” He insisted that money from the recovery fund would be made available in the form of grants and not loans.
Merkel said that in all, EU member states and the bloc’s executive would mobilise a combined sum of three trillion euros to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Europe is just beginning to ease out of the lockdowns that have taken a huge bite out of national economies and divisions among EU members on how to create an overall response have hampered action so far.
Macron said on Monday that the Franco-German initiative was the fruit of extensive talks with other EU member states, including Italy and the Netherlands, which have been at loggerheads in recent weeks.
European sources told AFP last week the Commission would lay out its plan toward the end of May, hoping to reconcile the opposing objectives of providing financial firepower without giving governments a blank cheque that would expose the entire bloc to budget deficits.
The European Central Bank has also promised to do “whatever is necessary” to help recover from the crisis, including a €750 billion scheme to buy government bonds for cash-strapped nations.
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As frontman of a rock band Damon used to court the British press, now he lives the quiet life in Spain and seeks to get to the heart of the community, scoring exclusive interviews with ex-pats about their successes and struggles during their new life in the sun.
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