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Merkel: Coronavirus Shows Limits of ‘Fact-Denying Populism’

Merkel: Coronavirus Shows Limits of ‘Fact-Denying Populism’

The coronavirus pandemic is showing the limits of “fact-denying populism,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the European Parliament on Wednesday.

In her speech, Merkel set out her country’s plans for its six-month presidency of the European Union.

Germany took over the task of chairing EU meetings on July 1.

It faces the challenge of seeking a compromise on a coronavirus recovery fund for the 27-nation bloc as well as the EU’s budget for the next seven years, as the continent faces up to the task of pulling out of a deep recession.

Merkel said there is no time to waste, given the “depth of the economic decline”, adding that “only the weakest would suffer” from a delay.

Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron in May proposed creating a one-time 500 billion-euro (563 billion US dollar) recovery fund that would be filled through shared EU borrowing.

That is a big step for Germany, breaking with its long-standing opposition to any kind of joint borrowing.

The EU’s executive Commission expanded on the proposal, putting forward plans for a 750 billion-euro fund made up mostly of grants.

It faces resistance from countries dubbed the “Frugal Four” – Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden – that oppose grants and are reluctant to give money away without strings attached.

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