European Council head suggests tweaked EU Covid-19 recovery package

European Council President Charles Michel. EPA-EFE/NAKE BATEV

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European Council President Charles Michel on Friday sought to offer concessions to countries across the EU in plans for the EU’s long-term budget and economic recovery, hoping to bridge differences between national leaders when they meet next week.

Michel, who will chair the first face-to-face meeting of European Union leaders since coronavirus lockdowns were lifted, proposed a smaller 2021-27 budget in a bid to make a mass economic stimulus more palatable to thrifty northern countries.

He proposed a long-term EU budget of 1.074 trillion euros – down from the European Commission’s suggested 1.094 trillion – and a recovery fund of 750 billion euros for pandemic-hammered economies, with two-thirds in grants and a third in loans.

“The COVID-19 crisis presents Europe with a challenge of historic proportions,” Michel said in a statement. “We are slowly exiting the acute health crisis. While utmost vigilance is still required on the sanitary situation, the emphasis is now shifting to mitigating the socio-economic damage.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is the latest big challenge for the 27-nation EU after it struggled with a debt crisis a decade ago, chaotic mass migration, and then the trauma of Brexit.

via Reuters

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