BRUSSELS, July 29 (Xinhua) -- The recent decision made by leaders of the 27 European Union (EU) member states to endorse a historic recovery package shows Europe's unique strength to invest in a common future, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday in an op-ed carried by the German newspaper Handelsblatt.
Last week following marathon talks in Brussels, the heads of state and government of the EU members reached an agreement on the bloc's long-term budget worth 1.0743 trillion euros (1.27 trillion U.S. dollars) in conjunction with a 750 billion-euro economic recovery package to help the bloc bounce back from the pandemic-induced recession.
Speaking to German readers via the newspaper, von der Leyen stressed that the deal was "historic," in terms of the size of the recovery package, the way the money will be raised, and how the money will be repaid.
"In past crises, the better off survived while the most vulnerable paid a heavy price. But this time it has to be different. This time we can only get back to our feet if we all pull each other up," von der Leyen wrote, according to an English translation of the op-ed posted on the Commission's website.
Von der Leyen explained that part of the recovery funds will be distributed in grants to member states to finance crucial reforms and investment, which will be tailored to what each country needs and be in line with wider European goals, especially those of the Green Deal.
She also explained that Europe should repay the funds through "new own resources" to "avoid sending a higher bill to Member States in the future."
Responding to questions that "why Germany should raise or repay money with another country thousands of kilometers away," von der Leyen wrote:" Europe's prosperity lies in its unity, its community and its single market. So for us solidarity is actually self-interest and a euro invested in one country is actually a euro invested for all."
She said the long and difficult summit is not a sign of hesitation or weakness, but "the ultimate sign of Europe's unique strength" by being able to finance the recovery and future together.
"And now we need to keep it that way for all by working with governments and parliaments to bring this recovery to life," von der Leyen wrote.
The proportion of the loans and non-payable grants for the 750-billion-euro recovery program was one big sticking point during the talks. Germany and France previously wanted the grants to be 500 billion euros, but were met with opposition from Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria and Sweden, nicknamed "Frugal Four."
In the agreed version, the recovery fund comprises 390 billion euros in grants and 360 billion euros in loans.
As "net contributors" to the EU budget, the "Frugal Four" will be granted higher budget rebates compared with a pre-summit version of the budget proposal, seen as a trade-off.
Germany, the biggest net budget contributor of the bloc, will also receive a rebate, but the amount was unchanged from the earlier version of the proposed budget, a result that raised eyebrows among some fiscally conservative Germans. (1 euro = 1.18 U.S. dollars)