BRUSSELS - EU finance ministers agreed a EUR 500 billion rescue Thursday for European countries hit hard by the coronavirus epidemic.
The measures are aimed at helping states hit by the coronavirus pandemic, while also supporting companies and shielding jobs.
The breakthrough came after ministers failed to overcome their differences in protracted talks earlier this week.
A controversial call from hard-hit countries such as Italy and Spain for common debt issuance had already been set aside, after coming up against strong opposition from Germany, the Netherlands and Austria.
However, a key sticking point remained regarding the conditionality attached to bailout fund disbursements, diplomatic sources said.
EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni described the agreement in a tweet as "a package of unprecedented size to support the health system, redundancy funds, liquidity for businesses and the fund for a revival plan."
The stimulus package, which requires final approval from EU leaders, consists of three elements: a precautionary credit line of up to EUR 240 billion from the eurozone's bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM); a guarantee fund from the European Investment Bank (EIB) for business liquidity amounting to EUR 200 billion; and EUR 100 billion for the EU's "Sure" program to pay salaries of workers who would otherwise be laid off.