Franco-German recovery grants idea a "historic step" - Le Maire

Standing united, France and Germany have proposed a half-a-trillion euro fund, providing grants for EU areas and sectors worst hit by the crisis.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Tuesday (May 19) proclaimed the significance of the plan:

"This is a historical step for France and Germany, and this is also a historical step for the whole European Union, because this is the first time when France and Germany stand together to have a funding through debt of new investments for the EU countries."

France and Germany proposed the idea on Monday (May 18), to be financed through the European Commission.

The Commission will borrow on the market using its triple-A rating to get the lowest rate - probably close to zero interest.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that Europe is drawing lessons from the financial crisis of 2008.

And while deal does not guarantee the proposal will be fully accepted by the EU, with France and Germany both on board, its main elements are expected to get through.

On Tuesday Le Maire was joined by German counterpart Olaf Scholz:

"I think it's great progress that we managed so fast to come to an agreement about a first 500 billion aid package, much faster than 10 years ago during the financial crisis, so we can now start on the second one. The first aid package was clearly defined: it was aimed small and mid-size businesses and their support through the European Investment bank. It was about making reduced working hours possible, also in countries which normally don't have that system. And we want to find a way to guarantee the state financing though the European Stability Mechanism."

The Commission will have to pay the money back though.

And that will likely come from future EU long-term budgets.

France and Germany are also to propose a common health plan for EU member states, including the coordination of masks and testing.

As well as the production of treatment and vaccines once available.