The leaders of Germany and France proposed Monday a 500 billion-euro ($543 billion) recovery fund for European economies hit by pandemic.
In a joint statement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron said the proposed fund would see European Union budget expenditure used to help sectors and regions that are particularly affected by the outbreak.
Macron said that under the proposal, the 27 EU countries would borrow together on financial markets and use the 500 billion euros to bring financing to hardest-hit economic sectors and regions.
“We are proposing to do real transfers (of money) … that’s a major step,” he said Monday.
The two leaders said they will seek a “swift agreement” on the EU budget and the proposed recovery fund, which is likely to run into resistance from fiscal hawks in the bloc such as the Netherlands. Merkel said that “because of the unusual nature of the crisis we are choosing an unusual path.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she welcomed the proposal: “It acknowledges the scope and the size of the economic challenge that Europe faces, and rightly puts the emphasis on the need to work on a solution with the European budget at its core.”