The European Union has found hard-won agreement on a Covid-19 stimulus package, reaching consensus on a “historic” €750 billion aid package to keep the continent’s embattled economies afloat following days of debate.
The 27 EU leaders inked the massive agreement early on Tuesday morning, with summit chairman Charles Michel simply tweeting “Deal!” to mark the occasion. He was joined by French President Emmanuel Macron, who hailed the move as “historic” for Europe in a tweet of his own.
Jour historique pour l’Europe !
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) July 21, 2020
Officials from the regional bloc met in Brussels late last week for what was intended to be a two-day summit to hammer out details of a broader €1.8 trillion coronavirus recovery bill, but wrangling over the €750 billion stimulus fund – which will be doled out to businesses in the form of grants and loans – stalled the negotiations for days.
“It has been a long summit and a challenging summit but the prize is worth negotiating for,” said Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin as the meeting approached the record for the bloc’s longest-ever summit, beaten only by a gathering in 2000 in the French city of Nice.
Agreement on the stimulus fund reportedly came after compromises were reached between a series of smaller working groups, according to EuroNews, which apparently appeased Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the plan’s strongest opponent, who insisted on a cap of €350 billion for the grants, favoring stricter loan conditions.
Header: France’s President Emmanuel Macron takes pictures from a document held by German Chancellor Angela Merkel during the first face-to-face EU summit since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium, July 20, 2020 © Pool via Reuters / John Thys