EU President Michel Defends Bloc’s Stimulus Package

Europe now has “a lot more” money available for future investments, European Council President Charles Michel told German newspaper FrankfurterAllgemeine Zeitung in an interview on Saturday.

He defended the 750 billion-euro ($860 billion) stimulus package agreed to by European Union leaders on Tuesday that aims to pull their economies out of the worst recession in memory and tighten the financial bonds holding their 27 nations together. Under the package, the EU will distribute 390 billion euros in grants and 360 billion euros of low-interest loans. The plan will be funded through the issuing of EU debt.

The European Parliament accused Michel of having reduced the funding earmarked for climate protection, digital innovation and the Erasmus university scholarship program in his proposal for the 2021-2027 budget, according to the newspaper.

“The reconstruction fund should be there to modernize the EU,” he said in the interview. “For the first time, the EU can borrow a large amount of money. This means that we have considerably more money available for future investments than before.”

Erasmus funds will increase by half in the new budget, he said. About 30% of the funds from the stimulus package and the EU budget are set to be used in climate protection.

“It is really not a little,” he said.

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