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EU Unveils Economic Recovery Package


The European Union's executive branch is calling on the 27-member bloc to back a major stimulus plan worth more than $250 billion. Lisa Bryant has the details for VOA from Paris.

Announced in Brussels on Wednesday, the European Commission's plan essentially calls on its members to spend more to fight the global economic slowdown. Some European Union countries have already announced being in recession and a report published Tuesday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicts much of region will be in recession next year.

The proposed stimulus plan is massive - about $256 billion, or about 1.5 percent of the gross domestic product of the entire 27-member EU. Most of the money would come from EU governments, with the rest from EU funds and the European Investment Bank. European Commission president Jose Manuel Barosso said that, if approved, the plan would address the particular needs of each member state.

"I think it would be a complete mistake for the European Commission to propose a harmonized uniform response when we know there are not only different points of departure but there are also other different policy environments," Barosso said.

The commission is making a strong case for the plan and offering a grim forecast for the region's economy. Economic Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia.

"The economic outlook is worsening," Alumnia said. "The downside risk that we identified in our forecast at the beginning of November are materializing and the financial crisis is not yet over. There are three very good reasons to present this plan today."

The EC also said it would temporarily allow countries in the 15-nation eurozone running up budget deficits greater than the three percent cap.

EU governments largely welcomed the stimulus plan, but some like Poland and Germany raised questions about where the money would come to finance it.

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