EU leaders have reached an “historic” deal on a huge coronavirus stimulus plan after a heated summit that lasted almost five days.
Summit chairman Charles Michel tweeted “Deal” shortly after the 27 leaders reached an agreement in the early hours. “This agreement sends a concrete signal that Europe is a force for action,” he said at an early news conference.
“It is about a lot more than money. It is about workers and families, their jobs, their health and their well-being. I believe this agreement will be seen as a pivotal moment in Europe’s journey, but it will also launch us into the future.”
The deal will see the EU offer €750bn in grants and loans in a bid to counter the economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic.
Talks between the EU saw a split between the “frugal” nations who were concerned about costs and the countries hardest hit by coronavirus.
The deal centres on a €390bn programme of grants to member states affected by the pandemic and Italy and Spain are expected to be the main recipients.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the deal was “truly historic” and that he was convinced the package meet the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic.
“This was a summit whose conclusions are truly historic. We have put in place the capability to borrow collectively, to put in place a collective recovery plan, for the first time,” Macron said. “With this recovery plan, we will reach a near doubling of the European budget over the next three years.”
After almost 100 hours of negotiations, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “It’s breathtaking to see that we have done it. We have reached a huge milestone setting up the future of the European Union”.