EU leaders sealed historic deal on post-pandemic recovery

EU leaders summit in Brussels
Top EU leaders agreed on a massive recovery package. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: After five days of fraught discussions, European Union (EU) leaders have agreed on a whopping 750 billion euro (almost $858 billion) stimulus plan to help fund Europe’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The deal would focus on providing funding across three pillars: creating reforms to help businesses rebound from the pandemic, rolling out new measures to reform economies over the long haul, and investing to help protect from “future crises.”

It would provide hundreds of billions of dollars in loans and grants to member states.

The agreement came after days fractious and of deadlock talks that were described as some of the most bitterly divided in years.

At a press conference Tuesday, European Council President Charles Michel said: “We did it! Europe is strong. Europe is united. This is a good deal, this is a strong deal, and most importantly, this is the right deal for Europe right now.”

“We did it! Europe is strong. Europe is united,” European Council President Charles Michel said at a press conference Tuesday. “This is a good deal, this is a strong deal, and most importantly, this is the right deal for Europe right now.”

Michel described the occasion as the first time that the European Union members were “jointly enforcing our economies against the crisis.”

The commission also agreed to a core budget of nearly $1.3 trillion (1.1 trillion euro) from 2021-2027.

French President Emmanuel Macron described the agreement as a “historic day for Europe,” while the Prime Minister of Belgium Sophie Wilmes said that “the European Union has never before decided to invest so ambitiously in the future.”

During the last few days, there had been bitter rows over some of the terms of the deal. The agreement came just hours after Michel had presented a new proposal to the political leaders on Monday.

The European Union is struggling a savage recession triggered by the pandemic, and the hardest-hit countries such as Spain and Italy urgently need fresh economic relief worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

Before Tuesday, any agreement had been thwarted by deep divisions over the overall size of the recovery fund, how much assistance should be given as grants or loans, and the conditions that should be attached.

Earlier this month, the European Commission said that it expects the EU economy to shrink 8.3% in 2020, considerably worse than the 7.4% slump predicted two months ago.

The meeting of the top EU leaders is the first major in-person gathering of world leaders since the pandemic started.

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