EU leaders extend summit as they grapple over coronavirus, recovery plan

WION Web Team
London, London, UK (Great Britain) Published: Jul 19, 2020, 06:48 AM(IST)

EU nations deadlocked at coronavirus summit Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

EU leaders were due to meet for a third day -- on Sunday -- to try and agree on a giant post-coronavirus economic recovery plan as four million residents of Barcelona in virus-ravaged Spain were effectively placed under lockdown.

European Union leaders in Brussels remained deadlocked Saturday over the COVID-19 recovery plan due to resistance from the Netherlands and its allies: Austria, Denmark, Finland and Sweden.

EU leaders were due to meet for a third day -- on Sunday -- to try and agree on a giant post-coronavirus economic recovery plan as four million residents of Barcelona in virus-ravaged Spain were effectively placed under lockdown.

The pandemic, which has spawned economic mayhem worldwide, also saw the G20 nations consider extending debt relief for coronavirus-hit poor countries in the second half of 2020.

European Council president Charles Michel was expected to propose another plan to the 27 leaders at noon (1000 GMT) Sunday after his blueprints for a 750-billion-euro ($850 billion) package were refused by the richer northern member states.

Michel's latest proposal would keep the total recovery budget at 750 million euros, but shift the balance slightly from grants to loans.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has insisted member states retain final approval of any funding -- an effective veto -- for recipients.

Michel's latest plan includes a "super emergency brake" that gives any country a three-day window to trigger a review by all member states of another's spending plans.

Meanwhile, Barcelona, one of Europe's most visited cities, effectively went back into lockdown Saturday. 

Spain's COVID-19 death toll of 28,400 is one of Europe's worst and the country has identified more than 150 new virus clusters across the country.

The regional government of Catalonia urged nearly four million residents of metropolitan Barcelona to stay home unless absolutely necessary, banning gatherings of over 10 people and shutting cinemas, theatres and nightclubs, after the number of new cases tripled in a week.

The virus has now killed nearly 600,000 people and infected over 14 million as it continues to surge across the globe despite months of unprecedented lockdowns.

India hit one million cases on Friday, the day Brazil topped two million -- although the World Health Organization said Brazil's contagion has "plateaued" with the rate of infection stabilising after 77,000 deaths.

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