Coronavirus: France and Germany suggest €500bn recovery fund
France and Germany are proposing a €500bn ($545bn; £448bn) European restoration fund to be distributed to EU nations worst affected by Covid-19.
In talks on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed that the funds must be offered as grants.
The proposal represents a big shift in Mrs Merkel's position.
Mr Macron stated it was a serious step ahead and was "what the eurozone needs to stay united".
"I consider this can be a very deep transformation and that's what the European Union and the only market wanted to remain coherent," Mr Macron stated following discussions by way of video hyperlink.
Mrs Merkel, who had beforehand rejected the thought of countries sharing debt, stated the European Commission would increase cash for the fund by borrowing on the markets, which might be repaid steadily from the EU's general price range.
Grants offered by the proposed recovery fund also needs to be used to help finance the bloc's funding in a greener future, the 2 leaders stated.
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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated the proposal "acknowledges the scope and the dimensions of the economic problem that Europe faces".
European Central Financial institution (ECB) President Christine Lagarde stated the plan was "formidable, focused and welcome".
Other EU nations should agree with the proposal, nevertheless, and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz later insisted that his nation backed offering loans to member nations hit exhausting by the coronavirus pandemic, relatively than grants.
"Our place remains unchanged," Mr Kurz wrote in a tweet, adding: "We anticipate the updated [EU budget] to mirror the new priorities quite than elevating the ceiling."
In EU political phrases that is big.
Chancellor Merkel has conceded rather a lot. She brazenly agreed with the French that any money from this fund, allotted to a needy EU country, ought to be a grant, not a mortgage. Importantly, this means not growing the money owed of economies already weak before the pandemic.
President Macron gave ground, too. He had needed an enormous fund of a trillion or extra euros. However a trillion euros of grants was in all probability an excessive amount of for Mrs Merkel to swallow on behalf of fellow German taxpayers.
The ensuing compromise: a win-win for the two leaders. They hope.
They acquired to exhibit that the famed Franco-German motor of Europe still has some va-va-voom. Mr Macron badly needs to polish his European credentials at house. He already has an eye fixed on his re-election bid and to date the self-styled Mr Europe's try at European reform has failed quite spectacularly to take off.
Chancellor Merkel, in the meantime, is in her last term of workplace. She's clocked the headlines predicting the EU's demise in view of the bickering and a scarcity of EU solidarity in the course of the pandemic. She has her political legacy in mind.
Italy and Spain had beforehand urged their partners in the 27-member bloc, especially the richer nations of northern Europe, to point out extra solidarity by sharing debt that each one EU nations would assist to repay.
The 2 nations are amongst quite a few European nations to additional ease their coronavirus lockdown restrictions on Monday.
However whereas businesses reopen following greater than two months of nationwide lockdown measures, the coronavirus pandemic has already hit economies arduous.