Merkel and Macron propose 500 billion euro recovery fund

Berlin, May 18 (efe-epa).- French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed the creation of a 500 billion euro ($543 billion) European Union recovery fund for the financial recuperation of the bloc in the wake of the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a joint video conference with Macron, Merkel said the proposal was an initial response to the economic crisis resulting from the measures adopted across the continent to confront the spread of Covid-19.

The conservative German leader acknowledged that some EU nations had been more affected by the virus than others.

The two leaders said the funds would have to be secured through existing financial mechanisms in the EU.

German authorities on Monday also opened the door to the possibility of permitting foreign travel depending on the progress made containing the coronavirus pandemic with preferential destinations being those of Spain and Italy, two of Europe’s worst-hit nations.

Heiko Maas, Germany’s foreign minister, said Merkel’s government hoped to move from the general advice against all foreign travel, which has been in place since mid-March, to a new set of guidelines that would be tailored for different countries.

Speaking after her conference with Macron, Merkel said: “It’s not going to be a normal season, it’ll be one under the sign of the pandemic.”

The current travel advice for German citizens is due to expire on June 15, a date that Merkel has said could serve as a milestone for starting to wind down border controls in the Schengen Area.

Maas said that any transition back to a form of normality would take time.

Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, the government on Monday said there had been a further 160 deaths from Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, a reduction in the daily toll of 10 compared to the previous day.

Health authorities said 34,796 people had died from the disease since the outbreak began. British figures include all settings, including care homes.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told lawmakers 21,000 people had been hired as part of a program to track and trace the disease in the UK.

Some 100,678 tests have been carried out in the last 24 hours.

The government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson is aiming to begin an initial phase of de-escalating the national lockdown from June 1, starting with the opening of some primary schools, which has drawn criticism from teachers unions.

In order to stem the possible spread of the coronavirus, Hancock announced that tests would be provided for anyone over the age of five who show symptoms.

Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, told the daily government press briefing that the country would have to learn to live with the virus for months or years until a vaccine is found.EFE-EPA


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