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Merkel calls EU rescue deal 'milestone'

EU finance ministers on Thursday agreed a €500-billion rescue deal for European countries hit hard by the coronavirus epidemic.

FILE: Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel gestures as she addresses media representatives after a European Union (EU) summit at EU Commission Headquarters in Brussels on 28 May 2019. Picture: AFP.

BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday called a coronavirus economic rescue deal agreed by the EU "an important milestone" and said it should be implemented as soon as possible.

EU finance ministers on Thursday agreed a €500-billion rescue deal for European countries hit hard by the epidemic.

The accord "marks an important milestone towards a joint reaction and European solidarity in the Corona Pandemic", Merkel was quoted as saying in a tweet by her spokesman Steffen Seibert.

In particular, member states could now take up the fight against unemployment, she said.

The EU deal was agreed after budgetary hardliners, especially The Netherlands, softened their position on economic reform and outside oversight in return for assistance.

But the ministers could still not agree on pooled borrowing via "coronabonds", an idea that Merkel has consistently rejected