The agreement on the stimulus plan signed at dawn on Tuesday by the 27 EU member states is the “birth certificate of a new Europe”, according to French Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire, who assured to make “no reproach” to the so-called “frugal” states.
This new Europe will be “more united, greener and then more Franco-German”, according to Mr. Le Maire, who recalled on Franceinfo radio that “for the first time in its history, Europe agrees to lift debt in common “.
“This agreement owes almost everything to the will of France and Germany, to the will of the President of the (French) Republic and the German Chancellor”, insisted the minister, who described the Brussels summit as “marathon negotiation, exhausting”.
In view of international tensions, “Europe must be able to decide as hard as this morning, but more quickly”, declared Bruno Le Maire, recalling France’s wish to move to a qualified majority at European level for questions relating to taxation.
Regarding the difficulties raised by the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Sweden, which wanted more loans and less subsidies in the plan, and which were at the origin of very heated disputes during the negotiations, the French Minister of the Economy assured not to make “no reproach to these four States”.
He said that “it would be very unwelcome”, while “they made a major concession” by agreeing for the first time to raise debt jointly at the level of the 27 EU member states.
The European recovery plan, bitterly negotiated from Friday to early Tuesday morning, provides for 750 billion euros in aid to pull the EU out of the economic slump caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
They are finally broken down into 390 billion in grants and 360 billion in loans, while France and Germany initially wanted 500 billion in grants and 250 billion in loans.