After one of the longest meetings of the European Union (EU) since 2000, the prime ministers, presidents, and chancellors of the 27 member states finally concluded their milestone agreement on July 21, 2020. They settled on a new EU budget of 1.1 trillion euros; the Multiannual Financial Framework; and, most critically, a historic consensus on creating the Next-Generation EU (NGEU) fund, with 750 billion euros in supplemental funding, to fight the new coronavirus and its impact. The context for this meeting included many major challenges. The novel coronavirus pandemic had hit Europe in the early months of 2020, and while its effects in the future were uncertain, it was clear that it would continue to cause significant fiscal deficits. The memory of the Great Recession that started in the United States and severely hit the EU, including especially the drastic measures taken in Greece’s recovery, was fresh. And in 2015, an influx of refugees, especially from the Syrian civil war, had resulted in conflict among EU members and a rise in political leaders critical of European integration.
Students consider why this 2020 fiscal agreement was a historic move and how lessons learned from the Great Recession, especially Greece’s sovereign debt crisis, influenced it. Students assess the impact of the coronavirus crisis and compare and contrast it with previous crises.