European Union finance ministers agreed late on Thursday on a 540-billion-euro package of measures to combat the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The decision reached by the Eurogroup should be the starting point of even more ambitious – in the future – European initiatives on dealing with the effects of coronavirus, but also the return to normality,” Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said, describing this decision as “a satisfactory agreement that offers new financial tools to deal with the unprecedented social and economic consequences of the coronavirus spread.”
According to Staikouras, this is a new package of measures, both for tackling the current health crisis and for the subsequent reorganisation of European economies.
* The package provides for increased funding for companies through the European Investment Bank, the implementation of a temporary programme to protect jobs, and the activation of the precautionary credit line of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) adapted to the current health conditions.
The aim of this package of measures, totaling more than 500 billion euros, is to strengthen health systems, boost liquidity in the real economy, reduce unemployment and boost social cohesion.
* As for the necessary restart of the economy, a recovery plan is about to be launched, financed by “innovative financial instruments”, as well as the use of European funds, through the rearrangement of the next Multiannual Financial Framework.
This agreement, Staikouras said, comes to complement the very positive recent decisions of the finance ministers for fiscal flexibility and the European Central Bank’s decision to boost liquidity.
“Today we agreed on three safety nets and a plan for the recovery to ensure we grow together and not apart once the crisis is behind us,” Eurogroup President Mario Centeno told reporters after the video conference.