EU leaders look to Commission to come up with pandemic recovery plan

Virus Outbreak Europe EU Summit
Virus Outbreak Europe EU Summit Copyright Olivier Hoslet/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
By Jack Parrock
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While EU leaders asked the Commission to come up with a plan on the long-term recovery, they've signed off on a previously agreed 540 billion euro package to deal with the short term consequences of the economic downturn and insist it’s functioning by June 1st.

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It's the start of a plan forming to find funding, but EU leaders have called on the EU Commission to come up with a plan.

“We are not talking about billion(s), we’re talking about (a) trillion," EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a virtual press conference.

After a mere four and a half hours of video conference, EU leaders, who’ve been battling how to shoulder debt collectively, have agreed to work towards a so-called recovery fund.

“This fund shall be of sufficient magnitude, targeted towards the sectors and geographical parts of Europe most effected, and be dictated to dealing with this unprecedented crisis," explained EU Council President Charles Michel.

The leaders have agreed to anchor this fund in the seven-year EU budget from the start of 2021 - something they were thrashing out prior to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Netherlands has been reluctant to take on collective debt but appears to be on board to work on the plan for the fund.

The EU Commission, now tasked with writing up a proposal, is already preparing for the fights between countries over whether the fund should issue repayable loans, or some kind of grant.

“There will certainly be a sound balance between grants and loans and this is a matter to negotiation," explained von der Leyen.

Crucially, Europe’s economic powerhouse, Germany, says it’s prepared to pay more into the EU pot for the fund.

It’s also supported by Italy and Spain who were insisting on taking on collective debt.

Leaders will reconvene in two weeks' time to continue negotiations.

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