BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders clinched an historic deal on a massive stimulus plan for their coronavirus-throttled economies in the early hours of Tuesday, after a fractious summit lasting almost five days.
The agreement paves the way for the European Commission, the EU’s executive, to raise billions of euros on capital markets on behalf of all 27 states, an unprecedented act of solidarity in almost seven decades of European integration.
Summit chairman Charles Michel called the accord, reached at a 5.15 a.m. (0315 GMT), a pivotal moment for Europe.
Many had warned that a failed summit amid the coronavirus pandemic would have put the bloc’s viability in serious doubt after years of economic crisis and Britain’s recent departure.
World shares climbed to their highest since February and the euro briefly hit its strongest since March on news of the deal.
“This agreement sends a concrete signal that Europe is a force for action,” a jubilant Michel told reporters.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who spearheaded a push for the deal with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, hailed it as truly historic.
Leaders hope the 750 billion euro ($857.33 billion) recovery fund and its related 1.1 trillion euro 2021-2027 budget will help repair the continent’s deepest recession since World War Two after the coronavirus outbreak shut down economies.
Germany Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said that, with the agreement, the chances of “a cautious, slow recovery” in the second half of this year had increased enormously.
While strong in symbolism, the deal came at the cost of cuts to proposed investment in climate-friendly funds and did not set conditions for disbursements to countries, such as Hungary and Poland, seen as breaching democratic values.
In an unwieldy club of 27, each with veto power, the summit also exposed faultlines across the bloc that are likely to hinder future decision-making on money as richer northern countries resisted helping out the poorer south.
The Netherlands led a group of so-called frugal states with Austria, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, insisting that aid to Italy, Spain and other Mediterranean countries that took the brunt of the pandemic should be mainly in loans, not in non-repayable grants.
“There were a few clashes, but that’s all part of the game,” said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, describing a warm relationship with his Italian counterpart, Giuseppe Conte.
But Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the frugals’ negotiating power was here to stay, suggesting Europe’s traditional Franco-German engine will be challenged.
Almost a summit record
Frictions peaked on Sunday night as Macron lost his temper with the frugals, diplomats said, and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki branded them “stingy, egotistic states”.
The bickering spun the summit out, making it the EU’s second-ever longest, just 20 minutes short of a record set in 2000 in Nice, according to Rutte. “We would have broken the record at 6:05, but we ended at 5.45,” he said.
Under the compromise, the Commission will borrow 750 billion euros using its triple-A debt rating, disbursing 390 billion in grants – less than the originally targeted 500 billion – and 360 billion in cheap loans.
Given the difficulties, talk of Europe’s Hamilton moment – hailed as such by German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz on Monday in reference to Alexander Hamilton’s decision to federalise debts of U.S. states in 1790 – is overblown.
The summit deal does not set the EU on the path towards a U.S.-style fiscal union, although some see it as a first step.
Rutte’s negotiations won an emergency brake to temporarily stop transfers of money from the recovery fund if an EU state was seen as not meeting reform conditions tied to the money.
The frugals also secured larger rebates from the next EU budget, a payback mechanism first won by Britain in the 1980s and which France had hoped to phase out after Brexit.
The recovery plan now faces a potentially difficult passage through the European Parliament and it must be ratified by all EU states. The first money will likely not reach the real economy before the middle of next year, economists say.
Reporting and photo: Reuters
A night of celestial wonders, luxury, and cosmic inspiration at Anantara Kihavah SKY Observatory by British astronaut Tim Peake
Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas celebrated a historic milestone with the exclusive visit of the renowned British astronaut, Tim Peake. On the evening of November 2, Astronaut Peake hosted an exclusive space talk at SKY Observatory, the finest overwater observatory in the Indian Ocean, housing the most powerful telescope in the Maldives.
Perched gracefully over the pristine Maldivian waters, SKY Observatory provided an idyllic setting for this extraordinary event, complemented by a stunning sunset. The exclusive gathering attracted a full house of eager guests to a delightful evening that seamlessly blended science, luxury, and natural beauty.
The evening commenced with a lovely cocktail reception, where guests were serenaded by the soulful tunes of a live saxophone band. Attendees savoured exquisite cocktails and canapés as they eagerly awaited Tim Peake’s presentation.
Tim Peake’s talk unveiled his personal journey, where he shared his path to becoming an astronaut and narrated the rigorous training that astronauts undergo. He provided insights into life in space, the daily challenges faced by astronauts, and the awe-inspiring experiences he encountered during his
historic mission. He also offered a glimpse into his exciting future projects, leaving the audience both inspired and spellbound.
Following Tim’s presentation, an interactive Q&A session allowed guests to engage directly with the British astronaut. The audience posed thoughtful questions, deepening their understanding of astronauts’ unique experiences and the intricacies of space exploration.
The event was further enriched by the presence of the resort’s three SKY gurus, Hammadh Rasheed, Zunnoon Ahmed, and Ali Arushal, who conducted a stargazing session for the guests afterward.
The success of the event was evident in the overwhelmingly positive feedback from attendees, who left with a deeper appreciation for space exploration and a memorable evening to cherish.
The evening marked a significant moment in Anantara Kihavah’s history, showcasing the resort’s commitment to offering unique and memorable experiences for its guests. The presence of Tim Peake, a celebrated astronaut and highly accomplished author, added an extraordinary dimension to the resort’s already spectacular offerings.
Tim Peake is a renowned British astronaut who made history as the first official British astronaut to visit the International Space Station (ISS) and conduct a spacewalk during his six-month mission. He also achieved the remarkable feat of running the London Marathon from space. Beyond his extraordinary space endeavours, Tim is also a bestselling author with his most recent book Space: A thrilling human history published earlier this month.
An astronomer’s paradise, Baa Atoll in the Maldives, is one of the best places on earth to enjoy stargazing due to its proximity to the equator. Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas promises a voyage of discovery on a private Indian Ocean Island, with Sky—an overwater observatory and luxury cocktail bar—providing guests a chance to sip champagne under the stars and explore the Universe.
Visit Maldives website adds atolls segment to showcase diverse regions
Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation’s (MMPRC/ Visit Maldives) has added a new segment to the official Visit Maldives Website specified for atolls showcasing the diversity of the Maldives.
The segment, now live at atolls.visitmaldives.com provides in depth information regarding the different regions of the Maldives, divided by atolls, to refine the traveller’s experience, commencing with an in-depth exploration of Addu Atoll and Fuvahmulah Atoll.
With 26 atolls, the Maldives offers a wide array of unique accommodations and awe-inspiring travel experiences, and this informative section of our website will serve as a gateway to discover the hidden treasures unique to each area. This falls under MMPRC’s initiatives to encourage tourism growth in all regions of the Maldives, broadening exposure to the diverse tourism products available in the Maldives.
The goal is to elevate Visit Maldives’ digital marketing landscape by showcasing the Maldives as more than just a honeymoon destination with various accommodation options. This initiative is driven by a desire to increase awareness about the distinctive offerings within each of the Maldives’ atolls. It aims to positively shape their perception of the Sunny Side of Life brand by curating engaging content that highlights the unique features of the atolls and diverse experiences available in the islands.
Additionally, the initiative will target the affordable luxury market to promote the Maldives as the most appealing option for short holidays and weekend getaways under a unified Maldives brand umbrella.
MMPRC aims to continue exploring other atolls in the Maldives as well, encouraging growth and tourism development in all regions of the Maldives, building on the foundation we have created to promote the destination beyond the traditional paradigms of sun, sand, and sea.
Delco Mart opens at Crossroads Maldives
Crossroads Maldives, the leading integrated leisure destination in the Maldives, has announced the opening of Delco Mini Mart, a mini supermarket that will transform the visitor experience by offering a one-stop shop for their shopping needs.
Crossroads Maldives has always been dedicated to enhancing the visitor experience, and Delco Mini Mart is the latest addition to their commitment to convenience and customer satisfaction. Delco Mart will be open daily from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm, providing visitors with a convenient and hassle-free shopping experience.
Crossroads Maldives is already known for its diverse range of leisure and dining options, including an eloquent beach club at SAii Lagoon Maldives, the iconic Hard Rock Cafe, the signature Lén Be Well Spa, and the star studded line up of restaurants ranging from the Ministry of Crab, Carne Diem Grill, Nihonbashi Blue, Kebab & Curry, Jiao Wu, Kinkao, Kalhu Odi to One Waan. Well-known international brands such as Rip Curl are popular crowd choices and the destination is also complete with, jewelry stores, a photography studio, indoor and outdoor event spaces, a fully-fledged yacht marina and ATM facilities. In addition, visitors can enjoy the services of Best Dives Maldives for diving and watersports excursions and the Maldives Discovery Center for interactive cultural immersion.
Delco Mart’s introduction at Crossroads Maldives underscores the commitment to providing a seamless and enjoyable experience for all guests. Whether you need groceries, snacks, beverages, or any other convenience items, Delco Mini Mart is here to cater to your needs, making sure you have everything you require.
“We are thrilled to introduce Delco Mini Mart to Crossroads Maldives, adding a touch of convenience and variety to our visitors. Our aim is to ensure that every guest’s stay is as comfortable and enjoyable as possible, and Delco Mini Mart is another step toward achieving that goal,” said Yashfa Hassaan — Director of Retail – The Marina at Crossroads Maldives.
Crossroads Maldives continues to bring luxury and leisure experiences closer to the local guests as well as the guests staying at SAii Lagoon Maldives, and Hard Rock Hotel Maldives. Delco Mart is the latest milestone in the ongoing journey to exceed the expectations of their guests. The doors of Delco Mart are now open, so come and experience the convenience and ease it brings to your stay at Crossroads Maldives.
One of the key advantages of Crossroads Maldives is its daily scheduled ferry services from Male and Hulhumale, which operate several times a day. This makes it easy for visitors to access this remarkable destination, with ferry bookings available online or through the concierge service.
For more information on Crossroads Maldives, please visit the website at crossroadsmaldives.com.
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