Barroso unveils £160bn EU recovery plan

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The Independent Online

Plans for a £160bn economic recovery package were unveiled by the European Commission today.

The proposals - equivalent to 1.5 per cent of the combined wealth of the 27 EU countries - is not meant to be a "one-size-fits-all" strategy to tackle the financial crisis, insisted Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Instead Brussels wants EU governments to step up coordination of their national efforts to counter the downturn.

Mr Barroso said national plans unveiled so far - including UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown's VAT-cutting package this week - were in line with the recovery goals set out at a "G20" crisis meeting in Washington earlier this month, and would be considered as a contribution to the EU-wide effort being called for today.

The Commission is urging the rest to press ahead with measures to stimulate growth.

"Our plan will boost demand and thus save and create millions of jobs," promised Mr Barroso.

If EU governments sign up to the plan, it will involve close cooperation on everything from tax cuts to investment strategies to get the economy moving - but taking account of "differences between member states in terms of their budgetary situations and outlook (and) their exposure to the financial and economic crisis", according to a Commission statement.

Mr Barroso told a press conference in Brussels that the Commission's plans were based on investment in people and businesses, infrastructure, innovation and clean technology.

"This is how we ensure that the short-term fiscal stimulus is also a platform for sustainable jobs and growth and jobs in the future," he said.

"It shall reach across the board of the economy, from the car industry to the construction sector".