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EU unveils proposed 750b euro post-pandemic recovery package
THE EU unveiled a proposed 750 billion euro (S$1.2 trillion) recovery plan on Wednesday to get the continent back on its feet after the devastation wreaked by the novel coronavirus pandemic, as Latin America outpaced Europe and the US in the number of daily infections.
The massive European plan follows other unprecedented emergency measures introduced around the world to rescue economies shattered by Covid-19, which has claimed more than 350,000 lives with infections rapidly approaching 5.6 million.
While the coronavirus continues to cause havoc in Latin America, Europe has slowly started reopening businesses as outbreaks on the continent slow; but Italy and Spain lack the firepower of richer European nations to rebuild their economies.
The European Commission put forward a 750 billion euro proposal to the European Parliament and member states on Wednesday, aiming to help the worst-affected countries with a mix of grants and loans.
Economic Affairs Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni hailed the proposal as a "European breakthrough" that would "tackle an unprecedented crisis".
Last week, EU officials said the recovery package could be as much as one trillion euros, but the amount was announced on Wednesday as 750 billion euros - a mixture of grants and loan credits.
Heavily indebted Italy and Spain are slated to be the biggest beneficiaries, according to a document seen by AFP. Italy would receive up to 81.8 billion euros in direct aid and 90.9 billion euros in loans, while Spain would receive 77.3 billion euros in aid and 63.1 billion euros in credits, the document said.
The proposed package is expected to kick off tough negotiations, as backers try to win the support of some northern EU states that oppose paying out aid in grants to nations already under mountains of debt - such as Italy and Spain. AFP