EU leaders to discuss economic recovery from pandemic

AFP , Friday 10 Apr 2020

European Council President Charles Michel on Friday called an EU leaders' videoconference for April 23 to discuss how Europe can pick itself up from the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

"It is time to lay the ground for a robust economic recovery," he said in a statement a day after EU finance ministers agreed a 500-billion-euro ($550-billion) emergency package for the bloc.

The leaders of the 27 member states will mainly be tasked with approving the hard-won rescue deal which opens EU credit lines for virus-hit countries in urgent need of bolstering their health systems.

"The agreement of the Eurogroup (the EU finance ministers) is a significant breakthrough. With this unparallelled package we shoulder the burden of the crisis together," Michel said.

The deal ended weeks of arguing, but tensions remain great over a proposal by Italy, France and other countries for EU nations to jointly raise money to help stimulate a recovery after the pandemic.

Sometimes called coronabonds, ministers left this controversial idea -- categorically refused by powerhouse Germany -- for the leaders to debate, with expectations very low that Berlin and its allies will budge.

The money raised would go to a recovery fund, which Germany believes can be financed by the long-term EU budget which is currently under negotiation.

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