A videoconference among EU leaders Thursday won’t result in a decision on the size of a planned coronavirus recovery fund, Angela Merkel said.
“A European economic recovery plan could support the necessary recovery over the next two years,” the German chancellor told the Bundestag in a speech ahead of Thursday’s virtual summit, but added: “Our discussions today will not yet be about determining the details or deciding on the scope.”
Merkel said in the coming weeks the European Commission should examine “how the various sectors of the European economy are affected and what action is required as a result.”
Competing ideas have been floated for the recovery program ahead of the meeting. Spain proposed a fund of up to €1.5 trillion based on grants to EU countries, while other countries like Austria insist the money must be issued via loans that have to be paid back.
The European Commission has proposed that total recovery measures should total up to €2 trillion.
Merkel said the recovery fund should be linked to the next seven-year EU budget, rather than setting up a separate process, as France and Italy suggested.
The chancellor said Germany “should be prepared, in a spirit of solidarity and over a limited period of time, to make quite different contributions to the European budget and that means significantly higher contributions.”
Merkel also warned Germans “we will be living with this virus for a long time to come” and, although she emphasized the importance of testing, she said the only way out of the crisis was a vaccine.
She also said she would urge her EU partners to discuss further integration in areas like the single market, digital policy and security and defense.