‘Madness!’ Clement Beaune blasted over proposal to DOUBLE Brussels’ €750bn recovery fund

EU recovery fund: Expert on 'complaint' from Germany's AFD

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The French European Affairs Minister said on Sunday that the European Union must shoot for a more ambitious COVID-19 recovery plan than the landmark 750 billion euro stimulus agreed last summer after the epidemic’s first wave.

Mr Beaune said Europe must not repeat errors made after the global financial crisis a decade ago and this time should underpin the recovery with investment, in fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks, green and digital technologies, among others.

But the proposal sparked the outrage of Les Patriotes leader Florian Philippot who claimed French taxpayers would lose out on even more contributions to the EU.

He blasted: “The French Secretary of State for European Affairs wants to ‘double’ the European recovery Covid plan.

“Already today with this plan, France is committing to 80 billion to recover 40, that would mean that it would commit to 160 to recover 80!

“Madness!”

Asked in an interview on LCI television how much would be needed, Mr Beaune said: “No doubt something like a doubling (of the existing fund).

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“The economic response has to be more ambitious.”

Mr Beaune said he hoped the EU’s 27 member states would ratify the recovery fund by May and that the 750 billion euros would be available from the summer.

France is due to receive 40 billion euros under the scheme.

EU governments are still submitting detailed spending plans for their share of the pot, and frustration is growing in Paris and some other capitals at the slow speed of disbursing the money.

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In an interview published on Saturday, European Council President Charles Michel said he did not share the view held by some that the EU’s recovery fund was insufficient when compared with the US spending plan.

Some leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, have also questioned whether further stimulus is needed after a second and now a third wave of coronavirus infections swept the continent, prompting further lockdowns.

Mr Michel said: “I know perfectly well that some judge (the fund) to be insufficient, making a comparison with the US recovery plan.

“It’s not an opinion that I share.”

Mr Michel, who chairs European Union summits, said there had been emergency spending by individual members states since the health crisis began and that Europe’s social welfare benefits were more generous than those in the United States.

He added: “They have allowed us to better absorb the shock and will also contribute to the recovery.

“When you put all these elements together, my conviction is that the European plan is very robust.”

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