EU finance ministers have agreed a €500bn (£430bn;$540bn) rescue package for European countries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The chairman of the Eurogroup, Mário Centeno, announced the deal, reached after marathon discussions in Brussels.

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It comes as Spain’s prime minister said the country was close to passing the worst of its coronavirus outbreak.

Spain has Europe’s highest number of confirmed cases, with 152,446. More than 15,000 people have died.

The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned the world is facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Kristalina Georgieva said the coronavirus pandemic would turn economic growth “sharply negative” this year.

At their Brussels talks, EU ministers failed to accept a demand from France and Italy to share out the cost of the crisis by issuing so-called coronabonds.

The package finally agreed is smaller than the European Central Bank (ECB) had urged.

The ECB has said the bloc may need up to €1.5tn (£1.3tn) to tackle the crisis.

However, the French Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, hailed the agreement as the most important economic plan in EU history.

“Europe has decided and is ready to meet the gravity of the crisis,” he tweeted after the talks.

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Source : https://www.bbc.com/