(19 May 2020) – Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron announced their joint proposal for a €500 billion European recovery programme following a virtual conference yesterday. The initiative seeks to bring Europe out of the crisis “united and in solidarity,” and prepare the EU for future challenges.
Germany and France envision a massive recovery programme to meet the challenges caused by COVID-19. Much of the funding is intended to provide support “to the sectors and regions most severely affected,” as Merkel made clear in the press conference, and will be given as grants, not loans.
This will not only help the worst-hit countries recover in the short-term, but will also “enhance the resilience, convergence, and competitiveness of the European economies,” the chancellor said.
While leaders in some countries like Spain and Italy have voiced their support, it remains to be seen how palatable the idea of grants will be to the so-called ‘frugal four’ (Austria, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands), who have so far opposed it. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz immediately tweeted that he had held talks with his three counterparts and that “our position remains unchanged.” (EurActiv)