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Eurozone reaches $590B coronavirus rescue package

The deal agreed to Thursday contains three so-called safety nets: one to protect workers, one to protect companies and one to protect countries from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.  Photo by Shutterstock/Canadastock/UPI
The deal agreed to Thursday contains three so-called safety nets: one to protect workers, one to protect companies and one to protect countries from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.  Photo by Shutterstock/Canadastock/UPI

April 10 (UPI) -- European Union finance ministers have agreed to a $590 billion rescue package aimed at protecting their economies from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The deal was made late Thursday by the foreign ministers of the Eurogroup's 19 member states after more than 16 hours of negotiations, said Mario Centeno, Portugal's finance minister and Eurogroup president.

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"Today, we agreed upon three safety nets and a plan for the recovery to ensure we grow together and not apart once the virus is behind us," he said.

The three safety nets in the deal are $109 billion to protect workers and jobs, $218 billion in favorable loans for ailing businesses through the European Investment Bank and credit lines of up to $260 billion from the European Stability Mechanism, an emergency fund established in 2012, for countries reeling from combating COVID-19.

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Centeno said the only requirement to access the credit line will be the country's commitment to use the funds to support domestic financing of healthcare, cure and prevention-related costs due to COVID-19.

"This agreement shows we have the political will and flexibility to take the instruments we created during the latest crisis -- in this case the ESM -- and make them relevant and appropriate for the current crisis," Centeno said.

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The announcement came a day after Centeno said he suspended negotiations for the day after the Eurogroup members failed to reach a deal.

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The main hold-out was the Netherlands who opposed the lack of conditions attached to the credit lines, believing they would benefit poorer member nations with the largest deficits.

The Netherlands also disapproved of the so-called coronabonds that would mutualize debt among all EU nations.

On Thursday, Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said they had reached a "sensible" rescue package after a provision was added to the deal, stating a country could only access up to 2 percent its GDP through the credit line as of end-2019.

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"With this package, we will help countries in need on the short term while also building resilient economies on the long term," he said via Twitter. "This is a powerful and sensible sign of European solidarity."

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