PMs of Portugal, Spain call for EU agreement in July on recovery fund

The prime ministers of Portugal and Spain met here on Monday and called on the European Union (EU) member states to reach a deal on the bloc’s 750-billion-euro (840 billion U.S. dollars) recovery plan by the end of July.

At a joint press conference after their meeting, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa and his visiting Spanish counterpart Pedro Sanchez said that “July must be the month of the European agreement” for the release of the EU’s recovery fund in response to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two prime ministers held the meeting to discuss a joint strategy for the scheduled meeting of the EU on July 17-18 in Brussels, Belgium, which will be the first in-person conference since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is essential that Europe does not waste any more time and be able to give a joint and robust response to the situation caused by COVID-19,” said Costa.

“It is very important that we organize ourselves to support the commission’s proposal and work together with our partners so that it is possible, in July, to have approved a recovery program that urgently responds to the need for economic recovery and job protection and that allows us to have these essential tools as soon as possible,” he added.

Sanchez echoed Costa and stressed the need for an agreement at the EU’s meeting next week.

“July is the month to reach an agreement in Europe and only unity can save many companies, protect jobs and reinforce the European project. I know it will be difficult, but we have to reach an agreement,” said Sanchez.

On May 27, the European Commission presented its proposal about creating a recovery fund of 750 billion euros as a solution to salvage the single market out of the severe health crisis posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 750-billion-euro rescue package has prompted divisions among EU governments as the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark insisted the recovery fund be only based on loans that need to be paid back later.