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Coronavirus: EU considers solvency aid for companies

May 21, 2020

Ahead of announcing their multi-billion-euro recovery plan, the EU economic affairs commissioner said that firms in countries without national support available may receive EU aid. He also praised the Franco-German plan.

Turbine in factory
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Lösel

The European Union is considering offering financial aid to companies in countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the economics affairs commissioner said Thursday.

Paolo Gentiloni told German business daily Handelsblatt that the EU's recovery plan will be even bigger than the Franco-German proposal agreed by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week.

"We are considering introducing a new instrument in our recovery plan: Solvency aid for companies that are not receiving aid from their home countries," Gentiloni said, adding that it was "important for pan-European value chains, not least in the car industry."

Read more: EU Commission planning 'green' auto industry rescue

He praised the Franco-German recovery plan, saying it was "very helpful that they have agreed on a common position." Their plan aims to offer €500 billion ($548 billion). Gentiloni refused to put a number on the EU's plan, but suggested it will be even bigger.

The EU is set to announce their plan in full next week.

Paolo Gentiloni
Gentiloni is a former Italian prime ministerImage: Reuters/M. Rossi

Worst-hit countries to receive more aid

Gentiloni was particularly keen to see support in his native Italy, which has been especially badly hit economically after introducing one of Europe's strictest lockdowns, but he steers away from laying out the conditions which will be placed upon those countries especially hard hit by the crisis.

"I would not call them conditions or conditionality," he said. "An essential task of our recovery plan is to help those countries and regions affected most by the pandemic."

"We want to share prosperity with all member states," he added, stressing that the recovery plan will only be possible with a focus on a "more sustainable, more social and more digital" strategy.

Read more: Coronavirus lockdown pushes Germany into recession"Ninety years ago we had the Great Depression, 10 years ago a major recession and now are threatened with a fragmentation of the EU into poor and rich nations. We must prevent this," he said.

EU nations are facing recessions this year owing to the coronavirus pandemic. Gentiloni also voiced his concerns around the tourism industry, as the EU works closer toward a common policy to allow summer travel within the bloc.

The interview with Gentiloni also appeared in four other European newspapers.

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Kommentarbild PROVISORISCH Elliot Douglas
Elliot Douglas Elliot Douglas is a video, audio and online journalist based in Berlin.