European Union leaders differ over COVID-19 recovery plan

The European Union physically met for the first time in Brussels, after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, on July 17. The bloc discussed measures on how to breathe life into economies ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 27 EU nations are struggling to close ranks on the bloc’s 2021-27 budget, proposed at above one trillion euros. The EU is suffering the worst recession in its history.

The European leaders were divided in their opinion about a mass stimulus package worth 750 billion euros, meant to help rebuild southern economies most affected by the pandemic. Differences arose pertaining to the overall size of the package, the special recovery fund and its split between free grants and repayable loans, budget rebates for five rich net payers, vetting procedures to access aid and rule of law strings attached to it.

On July 17, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said that the European Union leaders’ views on a mass stimulus plan remained “diametrically different”. Talking to reporters he added, “We will see if we even get to some agreement today, I rather think that we will not … So far, I don’t have the feeling we are getting closer to an agreement, I rather have the opposite feeling.”

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