The recovery fund to support EU Member States survive the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic should be available by latest mid-September and its “reasonsable size” should reach €1.5 trillion. European Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said this during an interview on Rai Television, Italy’s national broadcaster.
“We cannot wait two years, like what happened between the end of the World War II and the Marshall Plan. We need this now, by Summer. And Summer is over by mid-September, but ideally this plan is up and running by July”.
Quizzed on the current debate on a European level whether the best policy would see the provision of further loans to the already-indebted countries, or whether to provide direct grants, Gentiloni explained: “President Van der Leyen made no reference to a 50-50 mix, but rather that we need a mix. We need to work on both, loans are an important part of the whole plan but grants are a necessary element too”.
Last Thursday, EU leaders had not managed to iron out a deal after meeting for four hours by video conference. The grants issue remained the main divisive decision between EU leaders, with the hardest-hit countries, like Spain and Italy, pushing for direct support. French President Emmanuel Macron had defended their position, expressing his belief that: “I think in the moment we are going through, these transfers must be transfers, real budgetary transfers.”