After almost five days of intense negotiations, EU leaders reached a “historic” deal on the bloc’s long-term budget and Coronavirus recovery package.
“Europe is strong! Europe is united!,” EU Council President Charles Michel said during a news conference on Tuesday morning.
The agreement paves the way for the European Commission to raise billions of euros on markets, on behalf of the EU27, to respond to the unprecedented crisis posed by the pandemic.
EU leaders agreed on a €750 bn recovery fund, composed of €390 billion in grants and €360 billion in loans, instead of €500 bn in grants and €250 bn in loans as initially proposed by the EU’s Executive.
The Next Generation EU package will come on top of a €1.074 trillion long-term budget, namely the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which also gained the EU27’s nod.
Although the deal is rather historic for the Union, it is expected to bring major cuts to key sectors and alleged priorities for the bloc, including research and innovation, health, climate and the rule of law.
Speaking at the joint press conference with Michel, the Commission’s chief Ursula von der Leyen said that the move to slash the budget for those sectors was “regrettable”, but that was the price of reaching a compromise among EU leaders, given the pressure by the “frugals”.
The bloc’s fiscal response to the Coronavirus crisis, which amounts to €1.82 trillion in total, was hailed by French President Emmanuel Macron, who called the deal “truly historic.”