İrem UZUN -TDO- EU leaders agreed early Tuesday to a €1.8 trillion aid and budget deal aimed at helping hard-hit bloc members recover from the economic fallout of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The package includes a €750-billion fund to be sent as loans and grants, as well as a seven-year €1 trillion EU budget.

The recovery plan includes €390 billion worth of grants and €360 billion worth of loans due to a compromise with the so-called frugal four, now five, countries — Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. The recovery fund had originally set €500 billion to be handed out as grants and €250 billion in loans, which was supported and pushed by a close Franco-German alliance.

Speaking to reporters, European Council president Charles Michel called it a "good deal", stating that "Europe is solid". European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen underlined important concessions made in the search for a compromise, saying she regretted the cuts to "modern policies" in research and innovation. French president Emmanuel Macron called it an "historic day for Europe". Merkel reaffirmed her support for "substantial parts of grants" to be handed out to countries most severely-hit by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. "That is the answer we need for an exceptional situation," she said, adding "exceptional situations also require exceptional efforts".

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