Europe needs a more ambitious COVID-19 recovery plan, says France's Beaune

Beaune said he hoped the EU's 27 member states would ratify the recovery fund by May

  
French Junior Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune speaks during a press conference to outline France's strategy for the deployment of future COVID-19 vaccines, in Paris as the coronavirus disease outbreak continues in France, December 3, 2020.

French Junior Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune speaks during a press conference to outline France's strategy for the deployment of future COVID-19 vaccines, in Paris as the coronavirus disease outbreak continues in France, December 3, 2020.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/Pool

PARIS- The European Union must shoot for a more ambitious COVID-19 recovery plan than the landmark 750 billion euro stimulus agreed last summer after the epidemic's first wave, French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said on Sunday.

Beaune said Europe must not repeat errors made after the global financial crisis a decade ago and this time should underpin the recovery with investment, in fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks, green and digital technologies, among others.

Asked in an interview on LCI television how much would be needed, Beaune said: "No doubt something like a doubling (of the existing fund).

"The economic response has to be more ambitious," he said.

Beaune said he hoped the EU's 27 member states would ratify the recovery fund by May and that the 750 billion euros would be available from the summer.

France is due to receive 40 billion euros under the scheme.

EU governments are still submitting detailed spending plans for their share of the pot, and frustration is growing in Paris and some other capitals at the slow speed of disbursing the money.

In an interview published on Saturday, European Council President Charles Michel said he did not share the view held by some that the EU's recovery fund was insufficient when compared with the U.S. spending plan. 

(Reporting by Richard Lough Editing by Gareth Jones) ((Email: richard.lough@thomsonreuters.com; Tel: +33 1 80 98 12 45 ;))

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