European Union to unveil massive stimulus plan for post-coronavirus phase

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen addresses the plenary of the European Parliament on a new proposal for the EU's joint 2021-27 budget and an accompanying recovery instrument to kick-start economic activity in the bloc which has been rav

"The recovery plan turns the vast challenge we face into an opportunity, not only by supporting the recovery but also by investing in our future: the European Green Deal and digitalisation", von der Leyen said in a statement. German press agency, DPA, reported that €500bn of that will be distributed to member states via grants and €250bn through loans. France and Poland would each have access to around 38 billion euros, while Germany could get 28 billion.

The money raised for Next Generation EU will be invested across three pillars, the Commission said.

"Make no mistake this will strengthen our economy, not weaken it. Europe has truly opted for a "Just Transition", new Jobs, and innovation over a "business as usual" economic model that was broken".

If passed, the proposal would be the biggest European Union stimulus package in history and could see Europe-wide taxes on plastics, carbon emissions and big tech.

"It has promised to add €30bn to the €10bn 'just transition fund", meant to help coal-mining regions move away from fossil fuels.

What do the member states say?

Some €500bn will be provided in grants to the hardest-hit countries, with a further €250bn provided as loans. It can be operational from 2020 and will have a budget of 31 billion euro, aiming to unlock 300 billion euro in solvency support for companies from all economic sectors and prepare them for a cleaner, digital and resilient future, the Commission said.

There is fierce political opposition to the scheme from rich northern European countries tired of such massive cash transfers to poorer EU member-states. This would not affect the United Kingdom, as its liabilities are capped under the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Mrs von der Leyen will give details both of the recovery "instrument" and how it will be integrated into the EU's wider 2021-27 budget.

"To help do this in a fair and shared way, the Commission proposes a number of new own resources". Repayments would not begin before 2028, with the full amount due after 30 years. Reports suggest some EU-wide taxes may be imposed on the turnover of multinationals, as well as on plastics and Carbon dioxide emissions.

The borrowing will also be done by the Commission, rather than the European Central Bank, thereby avoiding another confrontation with Germany's Constitutional Court. The Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš has said it would be "unfair to be penalised for being successful" referring to the low number of coronavirus cases in his country. She said that the fund, dubbed Next Generation EU, is "providing an ambitious answer". "A European turning point to face an unprecedented crisis".

But green campaigners did not share this positive view. "We are missing clear mechanisms for implementing and enforcing the green conditions to truly ensure that no money spent by member states will go to harmful activities such as fossil fuels or building new airports and motorways", said Ester Asin, director of the WWF European policy office.



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