European Union leaders on Friday agreed to meet again in mid-July to discuss the European Commission’s coronavirus recovery measures, primarily powered by the proposed “Next Generation EU” plan.
Friday’s meeting was a videoconference of the leaders of the 27-nation bloc to discuss the post-coronavirus recovery fund, put forth by the European Commission on May 27.
To “repair the immediate economic and social damage” brought by the pandemic, the commission intends “Next Generation EU” to boost and reinforce the EU’s long-term 2021-27 budget, expanding it to $2 trillion.
“Next Generation EU” will be an “exceptional and temporary” instrument. The commission will borrow up to $840 billion through the issuance of bonds over the course of 2021-24. The acquired funds will then be directed to EU priorities through grants and loans.
“Next Generation EU” will be rolled out under three pillars: supporting member states’ recovery, kickstarting the environment and helping private investment, and learning lessons from the crisis caused by the pandemic.
More than 80 percent of the $840 billion will be used to support public investment where the crisis impact and resilience needs are the greatest among member states.
Spain and Italy currently have the highest number of coronavirus cases in the EU, with approximately 245,575 and 238,011 cases respectively.
“We want to prevent the unleveling of the playing field,” said Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, after Friday’s videoconference. “We want to prevent the widening of the divergences between member states, which would be a weakening of the single market."
The commission’s plan has provided grounds for disagreement and negotiations.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters after Friday’s virtual meeting that further discussions would be necessary.
“Everyone said what they thought was positive and of course brought in points of criticism, too,” the chancellor said. “The bridges that we still have to build are big.”
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven noted that “all in all, big improvements are needed before the both the long-term budget and recovery fund are good enough.”
Portuguese Prime Minster Antonio Costa said all EU members must open “green pathways” to reach an agreement.
“This is not the moment to draw red lines, it is the moment to open green pathways to a deal in July,” Costa said.