Franco-German initiative on fund is major step forward: Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron listens to German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a video conference at the Elysee Palace, Paris, France, May 18, 2020. Francois Mori/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - A Franco-German initiative to set up a 500 billion euros ($544.75 billion) Recovery Fund able to offer grants to the countries and regions hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis is a major step forward, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday.

Macron also told reporters during a joint video conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that for the first time, France and Germany had proposed for the European Union to raise debt jointly.

Reporting by Michel Rose; Writing by Matthieu Protard; Editing by Alison Williams