EU leaders agreed on Friday that urgent action was needed to haul their coronavirus-hit economies from the deepest recession since World War Two, but made no progress on a massive stimulus plan that has divided them bitterly for weeks.
The 27 avoided a bruising bust-up during a summit by video-conference of around four hours, and agreed to meet in person in mid-July to haggle and get across the line a long-term budget and economic rescue package worth 1.85 trillion euros.
“Leaders unanimously agreed that the severity of this crisis justifies an ambitious common response,” Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, told reporters.
Earlier, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde warned the leaders that the European Union‘s economy was in a “dramatic fall” due to the coronavirus crisis and that the full impact on unemployment rates was yet to come.
Under discussion is the EU’s 2021-27 budget of about 1.1 trillion euros, and a proposal by the Commission, the bloc’s executive, to borrow 750 billion euros from the market for a new recovery fund that would help revive economies hardest hit by coronavirus, notably Italy and Spain.