A plan for injecting billions of euros of emergency aid into Europe’s struggling economies has been agreed by EU leaders.
At a video conference they agreed to set up a massive recovery fund, to be closely tied to the bloc’s seven-year budget. The European Commission now has to work out the details.
They also confirmed that €540bn (£470bn) of financial support would be released through existing mechanisms, to ease the economic pain caused by coronavirus, from 1 June.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the future recovery fund would mobilise €1 trillion of investment.
There has been bitter argument over how to fund the much-needed aid. But Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said “great progress” had been made on Thursday.
Italy – the worst-affected country in Europe to date – has urged its EU partners, especially the richer countries of northern Europe, to show more solidarity.
Italy’s death toll climbed to 25,085 on Wednesday, rising by 437 compared with 534 the day before. The number of people currently confirmed ill with the virus fell for the third consecutive day, and the number of people in intensive care also continued to decline
In France a further 544 people have died with coronavirus. The tally – 336 in hospital and 208 in care homes – brought France’s total Covid-19 death toll to 21,340
All 16 states in Germany have now announced plans to make face masks compulsory. While some states will not make them mandatory for people while shopping, everyone throughout the country will have to wear face coverings on public transport
Spain is seeking to extend its state of emergency for a further two weeks, until 9 May. Speaking in parliament today Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the country could start to loosen restrictions in the second half of May, provided authorities managed to stay “on top of the virus”
And the charity Human Rights Watch has criticised Greece for not doing enough to “avert a public health crisis” in overcrowded camps for asylum seekers and migrants
Covid-19 (Coronavirus) news from BBC