By Tony Winterburn • 21 July 2020 • 9:10
EU Leaders Clinch 750 Billion-Euro Coronavirus Recovery Fund. image: Wikipedia Commons
European Union leaders agreed on a stimulus package of €750 billion (£676 billion) of joint debt to help member states recover from the economic downturn due to pandemic.
THE summit, which began in Brussels on Friday morning, saw more than 90 hours of talks and became the EU’s longest since a 2000 meeting in the French city of Nice, which lasted for a total of five days.
The agreement, reached in the early hours of Tuesday after more than four days of acrimonious negotiations in Brussels, required the unanimous approval of all 27 member states and represents a victory for German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
The emergency fund will give out €390 billion of grants and €360 billion of low-interest loans. Over 30 per cent of the funds are earmarked for fighting climate change and, together with the bloc’s next €1 trillion, seven-year budget, will constitute the biggest green stimulus package in history. All expenditures must be consistent with the Paris Agreement’s goal of cutting greenhouse gases.
“It has been a very challenging number of days negotiating this package but it has been worthwhile. The solidarity displayed throughout this summit is something that I think will stand Europe in good stead into the future,” Taoiseach Micheál Martin said after the deal was clinched.
“The Covid-19 challenge is unique, its impact in terms of economic social and political life is very severe and it necessitated a response of this scale and magnitude.”
The pandemic has killed about 135,000 in the EU and the crisis has plunged its economy into an estimated contraction of 8.3 per cent this year. The masked 27 heads of state and government were utterly divided over the stimulus plan, which will see the EU raise common debt on an unprecedented scale, in what is a further step towards closer integration.
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