US President Joe Biden signed a $1.9trillion (£1.6trillion) bill to help the US economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic last week. It is the third major spending package to counter the pandemic, and the first since Mr Biden took office in January with his Democrats narrowly in control of both houses of Congress. There is plenty of debate about whether the package is the right call.
To its supporters, it will reboot an economy in dire need of help, while to its critics it is potentially inflationary overkill.
For many Europeans, it reportedly highlights the inadequacy of their recovery package.
In a recent report, the Telegraph’s business editor Ambrose Evans-Pritchard argued that while America is letting rip with relief and recovery spending on a scale unseen since Franklin Roosevelt’s war economy, Europe risks repeating its post-Lehman error, reverting to the EU’s default policy of austerity and Ordoliberal debt brakes.
At the end of July, EU leaders struck a deal on a coronavirus recovery package after days of bitter talks.
The €750billion (£668billion) coronavirus fund, spearheaded by France and Germany, will be used as loans and grants to the countries hit hardest by the virus.
The remaining money represents the EU budget for the next seven years.
However, this does not seem to be enough – at least, when compared to one the US has just passed.
Mr Evans-Pritchard wrote: “Europe is a sitting duck. There is no Bidenesque mega-stimulus. The EU’s €750billion (£668billion) Recovery Fund is stretched over six years and almost half comes as loans that largely displace planned borrowing.
“Several countries are opting for fiscal contraction this year.
“Europe may muddle through if it vaccinates fast enough to suppress the third wave of Covid to avoid a fresh lockdown, a disaster that would delay recovery by a quarter.
“But this is touch and go. New variants are already dominant in France, Italy, and much of central Europe, and will soon be dominant everywhere.”
Europe’s leaders, he noted, are resisting calls from scientists for tougher measures, afraid that civic consent is breaking down and that economic damage will metastasise.
JUST IN: EU accused of using Brexit deal as weapon in war against UK
He warned: “They risk being caught in destructive indecision, neither open nor closed, doomed by a stubborn death toll to stop-go policies and half measures until early summer.
“The Recovery Fund clearly needs to be much bigger – and involve instant transfers, paid for by joint Eurobonds – but that is to cross a political line in the sand.
“EU leaders oversold the fund as Europe’s transformative ‘Hamilton Moment’ when it was agreed last June.
“They would struggle to explain to German, Dutch, and north European taxpayers why they must dip into their pockets yet again.”
Many Europeans are indeed unhappy with the package.
German MEP Gunnar Beck has furiously criticised the Recovery Fund and argued Angela Merkel is the most expensive Chancellor in the history of his country.
He told Express.co.uk: “Merkel is always giving away in the end.
“Paying money to save the euro.
“This whole idea of Merkel’s austerity is very unconvincing.
“She is the most expensive Chancellor in German history.”
Sturgeon on brink as new plan that may silence SNP forever emerges [INSIGHT]
Merkel on brink as leader behind EU vaccine plan [ANALYSIS]
Iceland walked out of EU fishing talks: ‘Not willing to share!’ [REVEALED]
He added: “She is obviously paying German money left, right and centre.
“What is happening now is that the whole of Europe is becoming dependent on Germany and to a less extent Northern European money.
“Southern Europe appears to stand no chance at regaining competitiveness
“It is not a very healthy state of affairs.”
French MEP Philippe Olivier, who also serves as special adviser to National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, echoed Mr Beck’s claim in another interview with Express.co.uk.
He said: “There are many problems with it.
“First of all, it is a problem of competence.
“Many claim the EU was not in a legal position to contract such loans.
“So it might not even be legal.
“And you can see very clearly how Brussels uses every crisis to advance forward towards a federalisation of Europe.
“Having a mutualised debt creating a common financial debt creates a financial state.”
Mr Philippe added: “France will be paying €80billion (£69billion) and we will get €40billion (£34billion) back.
“As Margaret Thatcher used to say: ‘I want my money back!'”