Leaders discuss on corona crisis recovery measures

Charles Michel.

Against the backdrop of the growing coronavirus crisis and its devastating impact on European economies, EU27 leaders started discussing at a videoconference on Thursday afternoon the next steps for Europe's recovery. This is also in the context of the increasing intransigence of the North and South positions regarding the funding of the necessary reconstruction measures.

At the negotiating table during this fourth virtual meeting for the last two months, along with other pressing issues, will be two road maps. One is the European Roadmap proposed by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Commission together with Charles Michel, President of the European Council, for the gradual lifting coronavirus containment measures taken as a result of the spread of the coronavirus.

The other roadmap is for recovery “towards a more resilient, sustainable and fair Europe”. It reads that the European Union needs investment efforts such as the Marshall Plan to stimulate economic recovery and modernization and that “green transition and digital transformation will play a priority role in relaunching and modernising our economy”.

It also emphasises that the future multiannual financial framework, or the long-term EU budget, which should be adopted as soon as possible, will be a “key instrument  to  support  a  lasting  recovery  and  a  fully  functioning and  modernised  Single  Market”.

Leaders will also discuss a proposed by the Eurogroup package of €540bn to tackle the socio-economic consequences of the crisis, containing three important safety nets - for sovereigns, for private companies and for protecting jobs.

“We should give the go-ahead to these important initiatives and insist on them becoming available as quickly as possible,” European Council President Charles Michel wrote in a letter to leaders, stating that the aim aim should be for these three safety nets to be in place and operational by 1 June.

Observers say the most difficult task during the talks will be to find unity for the next recovery plan, totaling about €1.5tr, to help the countries most affected by the crisis. The designing of such a plan, as part of the renewed draft Multiannual financial framework, will be entrusted to the European Commission, but differences in views on how the funds are spent must be overcome.

General conclusions are not expected from this meeting, only a statement from European Council President Charles Michel, under whose leadership the meeting is being held.

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