Austria wants changes to the EU’s coronavirus recovery plan


Austria opposes the EU’s current 750 billion-euro plan to support economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The country is pushing for changes to the proposal to be agreed, Austrian Finance Minister Gernot Blumel urged.

Under the plan, which must be approved by EU countries, the European Commission will borrow money from financial markets and allocate two-thirds in the form of grants. The remaining third – as loans to help the unprecedented economic collapse in which the countries fell this year due to the coronavirus.
Austria is ready to negotiate changes to the European plan to make it more acceptable. In its current form, it will put a lot of strain on Austrian taxpayers. Austria will not agree to this package, Blumel said.

The so-called “thrifty four” Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark have identified the proposal as a starting point for negotiations. Blumel’s statement is a signal that without change, his country is likely to reject the proposal. This financial plan is in addition to the long-term EU budget for the period 2021-2027, for which the Commission is proposing 1.1 trillion euros and must be approved unanimously by all member states as well as by the European Parliament.

The Commission’s proposal, along with the European budget and the recovery fund, mean that Austria will have to import nearly 2 percent of its gross domestic product, Blumel explained. And that would be twice as much as before. This is unacceptable for us, the Minister of Finance is categorical.

A few days ago, when the plan was announced, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on EU members to put aside their prejudices and support its € 750 billion recovery strategy. She faces a battle to persuade the Thrifty Quartet, which opposes debt consolidation or the transfer of large sums of indebted southern countries to the community.

However, the European Commission won the decisive support of Germany and France. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel predicts difficult negotiations at the June summit.

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