COVID-19: EU leaders to hold summit on recovery plan

EU

European Union (EU) leaders will hold a video summit on Thursday in a bid to agree on a shared fiscal response to a recession looming as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, though there is little hope of a breakthrough.

The best-case scenario would be for national leaders to agree on the broad of strokes of a long-term recovery plan, according to an EU official, while clarity on a strategy is likelier to emerge by June or July.

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National leaders are expected to approve a 540-billion-euro (584 billion dollars) aid package already negotiated by their finance ministers to support jobs, companies, and burdened states.

European Council President Charles Michel wants leaders to task the European Commission with drawing up a detailed proposal off the back of the talks.

EU member states agree that billions if not trillions of euros more in shared stimulus will be needed to help the bloc’s 27 economies weather the consequences of the health crisis, but EU capitals are divided on the size of the fund and how it should be spent.

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Italy has been leading the charge for a shared EU debt instrument known as coronabonds, fiercely opposed by Germany and the Netherlands.

Berlin and Rome have both struck more conciliatory notes in recent days, but EU officials warn that consensus is still a long way off.

This will be the fourth video summit since the beginning of the crisis.

DPA/NAN

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