The European Union reached a “historic” deal early Tuesday morning on a massive coronavirus stimulus plan after nearly five days of intense negotiations.
The deal includes $857 billion in grants and loans, the largest joint borrowing in the history of the E.U., which will go towards repairing and rebuilding the economies of the group’s 27 members after the devastation wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic. Since the pandemic hit, Europe has sunk into its deepest recession since World War II.
“This agreement sends a concrete signal that Europe is a force for action,” E.U. Summit chairman Charles Michel said at a news conference after the agreement was reached. “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.”
“This is a strong deal. And most importantly, the right deal for Europe right now,” Michel added on Twitter.
The summit began on Friday in Brussels and saw more than 90 hours of intense talks that included a threat from France to walk out and one from Hungary to veto the package. Meanwhile, “frugal” members led by the Netherlands including Sweden, Denmark, and Finland opposed the package as too expensive. They argued that aid to Mediterranean countries like Italy and Spain that were hit hard by the pandemic should be in the form of loans rather than non-repayable grants.
Leading the push for the deal were German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, who called it “truly historic.”
The relief package still requires ratification by the European Parliament.
After a deal was reached, the Euro rose to a four-month high of $1.147 on Tuesday.