Germany, France propose 500 bil. euro fund

The leaders of Germany and France have proposed a fund of 500 billion euros, or about 543 billion dollars, to help the European Union recover from the coronavirus crisis.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron held telephone talks on Monday to discuss the EU economy, which has been hit hard by the outbreak.

The two leaders told reporters after the talks that they agreed to support a plan to set up the recovery fund to offer grants to the bloc's regions and industries that have been most affected by the pandemic.

Macron called the establishment of the fund a common EU strategy that would make up for the EU budget and would be a major step forward.

Under the plan, the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, would raise the money on financial markets.

Merkel stressed that the goal should be a stronger and united Europe that can overcome the crisis. She said to that end, extraordinary efforts will be needed, but German and France are ready.

EU leaders discussed the plan to set up a fund to spur the economic recovery of the bloc at a summit meeting in April. But they failed to narrow their differences over the potential size of the fund.