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EU’s Michel says COVID-19 recovery fund is sufficient – Les Echos

European Council President Michel speaks during a news conference in Ankara

PARIS (Reuters) – The European Union’s COVID-19 recovery response is robust and does not fall short when compared with the United States’ $1.9 trillion recovery plan, European Council President Charles Michel told Les Echos newspaper.

EU member states agreed last summer on a 750 billion euro ($892.2 billion) recovery fund, but with governments still submitting detailed spending plans, frustration is growing in some capitals at the slow speed of disbursing the money.

Some leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, have also questioned whether further stimulus is needed after a second and now a third wave of coronavirus infections swept the continent, prompting further lockdowns.

“I know perfectly well that some judge (the fund) to be insufficient, making a comparison with the U.S. recovery plan. It’s not an opinion that I share,” Michel was quoted as saying in an interview published by the French newspaper on Saturday.

Michel, who chairs European Union summits, said there had been emergency spending by individual members states since the health crisis began and that Europe’s social welfare benefits were more generous than those in the United States.

“They have allowed us to better absorb the shock and will also contribute to the recovery,” he said. “When you put all these elements together, my conviction is that the European plan is very robust.”

($1 = 0.8406 euros)

(Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Helen Popper)

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