Merkel and Macron Meet to Discuss $500 Billion EU Recovery Fund

German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Monday with French President Emmanuel Macron for talks as Germany prepares to take over the European Union presidency.

The start of the six-month rotating presidency on July 1 comes as the 27-nation bloc faces the massive challenge of trying to get economies back on track and restore freedom of movement between countries while not sparking a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Merkel during the weekend said she was convinced Europe could overcome the challenges even though the coronavirus continued to be a threat, and that EU economic recovery measures need to be passed as quickly as possible.

Merkel and Macron in May proposed creating a one-off 500 billion-euro ($561 billion) recovery fund that would be filled through shared EU borrowing.

That proposal was expanded upon by the EU’s executive Commission, which put forward plans for a 750 billion-euro fund made up mostly of grants. It’s facing resistance from some countries, however, that oppose grants and are reluctant to give out funds with no strings attached.

Merkel and Macron appeared at ease as they met at a German government villa outside Berlin, chatting as they walked through the garden before sitting down at a small table outside and talking in the afternoon sun.

In addition to the upcoming plans for the German EU presidency, the two leaders were expected to talk about multiple other issues, including relations with China, the U.S. and migration policy.

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