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EU reaches deal on post-pandemic recovery after marathon summit

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) — European Union leaders agreed on a massive stimulus plan for their coronavirus-blighted economies at a pre-dawn meeting on Tuesday after a fractious summit that lasted almost five days.

Summit chairman Charles Michel tweeted “Deal” shortly after the 27 leaders reached agreement at a 5.15 a.m. (0315 GMT) plenary session.

“This agreement sends a concrete signal that Europe is a force for action,” Michel said at a dawn news conference

“It is about a lot more than money. It is about workers and families, their jobs, their health and their well-being. I believe this agreement will be seen as a pivotal moment in Europe’s journey, but it will also launch us into the future.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said the deal was truly historic and that he was convinced the recovery plan and budget could meet the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials said the deal, which came after Michel presented compromises on a 750 billion euro recovery fund, is critical to dispel doubts about the bloc’s very future.

News of the deal saw the Euro rise to a fresh four-month high of $1.1470.

The EU was slow to coordinate its initial response to the Covid-19 pandemic and, already weakened by Britain’s departure from the bloc, a united front on economic aid would demonstrate that it can step up to a crisis and stay united.

“It has been a long summit and a challenging summit,” Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said as the Brussels summit approached the record length set at a 2000 meeting in the French city of Nice of almost five full days.

European nations have done a better job of containing the coronavirus than the United States after a devastating early few months that hit Italy and Spain particularly hard, collaborating on medical, travel and economic fronts.

The European Central Bank has pumped unparalleled money into economies to keep them going, while capitals hammer out their recovery fund.

Diplomats said the leaders appeared to put aside the rancor that stood in the way of a compromise over hours of haggling through the weekend.

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