The deal, however, is only the first battle in the economic response to the virus. The Heads of State and Government will face more difficult negotiations to seal an agreement on the economic recovery plan for the coming months and the payment thereof. The German Presidency begins today with the fact that the ratification of the EU-Mercosur agreement is at the top of its agenda. With more than 250 additional NGOs, we call on EU Member States and MEPs to oppose the ratification of this agreement. According to Eurogroup President Mario Centeno, the agreement is based on three pillars: first, aid to workers with a €100 billion package that the European Commission will give to member states. Secondly, support for businesses with EUR 200 billion in loans from the European Investment Bank. Thirdly, aid to Member States with credit lines from the European Stability Mechanism, which represents 2% of each country`s GDP. The EU-Mercosur agreement, if ratified, will become the most important trade agreement for the EU to date. The Latin American bloc is a major global producer of chicken and beef, and Mercosur is the largest source of imported meat into the EU and accounts for 43% of total EU meat imports in 2018.

The bloc mainly exports cattle, poultry and horse meat to the EU. The agreement does not explicitly provide for a common debt to be spent to finance recovery – which is what Italy, France and Spain are asking for, but it is a red line for Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Austria. Despite the stalemate, after the end of the long meeting, there was reason to believe that an agreement could be reached on the package when ministers were convened last Thursday afternoon. On the one hand, although France and Germany were opposed to the ESM and Eurobond issues at recent meetings, it was clear that both governments were convinced of the need for the EU to act given the magnitude of the latest estimates of the likely decline in gross domestic product this year. called on his colleagues to resolve the difficult financial issues and support a « good compromise for all citizens ». Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister, said: « While we count deaths by the hundreds of thousands, finance ministers are playing with words and adjectives. This is a disgrace to the finance ministers, a disgrace to the Eurogroup and a disgrace to Europe. We should have a common understanding of the seriousness of the crisis and decide on a strong common response. The final agreement was that SURE`s « main objective » was the protection of workers, Centeno said, although the Netherlands managed to add in the final agreement that the mechanism could also cover « certain health-related measures ». While the deal has been applauded in much of Europe (if not by Matteo Salvini and others in Italy), the agreement establishing the ESM exaggerates the amount of funding that eurozone member states are likely to be available to. . .

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