March 17 (Reuters) - European Union leaders meet on Thursday and Friday to discuss steps to limit the worst economic downturn in living memory amid calls from the United States for more public spending to stimulate demand.
According to the European Commission, the executive arm of the 27-nation bloc, the total fiscal stimulus in the EU equals between 3.3 and 4 percent of its gross domestic product.
The number includes public spending on welfare that automatically starts growing during an economic downturn through higher unemployment and social benefits, or what are called automatic stabilisers.
The U.S. stimulus plan equals about 5.5 percent of its GDP.
Below is a list of fiscal stimuli, already decided by EU members, to help weather the financial crisis. * BULGARIA — Increased by 20 percent to 5.6 billion levs ($3.66 billion) capital expenditure for 2009. The money will go into infrastructure projects, public building repairs and education and healthcare-related projects. * CZECH REPUBLIC — More than doubled its stimulus package to 73 billion crowns ($3.3 billion) in revenue and spending, representing 1.9 percent of GDP. — The plan, which will push the fiscal deficit “significantly” above 3 percent of GDP, sees lower social security payments, faster depreciation of property, and widening a value-added tax write-off for the purchase of new cars. * FRANCE — Unveiled a 26 billion euro ($33.8 billion) stimulus package, equivalent to 1.3 percent of GDP. The French economy minister said the plan should create 80,000-110,000 new jobs, making up for the expected disappearance of some 90,000 jobs due to the crisis. * GERMANY — The Bundesrat, parliament’s upper chamber, has approved a 50 billion euro stimulus package, which includes a mix of infrastructure investment and tax cuts. — Germany had previously passed a package of measures worth 31 billion euros, aimed at generating 50 billion euros of investment and new contracts over two years. * HUNGARY — Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany unveiled a raising of the main value-added tax to increase revenue along with allowing a cut in taxes on jobs to boost the economy. — In November, Hungary announced plans for a 1.4 trillion forint ($6.9 billion), two-year stimulus package to kick-start economic growth. The package does not involve new spending. * ITALY — Approved a package to help families and firms hit by the financial crisis. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said the measures amounted to 80 billion euros, but economists say the vast majority recycles existing funds.
* LITHUANIA — Plans an economic stimulus package worth 4 billion to 5 billion litas ($1.48-$1.86 billion), the prime minister said on Feb. 6. The plan is to help business to get credits, speed up the use of EU structural assistance and ease labour market regulations. * NETHERLANDS — Announced a “liquidity impulse” of about 6 billion euros, including allowing companies to write down investments earlier than usual. * NORWAY — Presented last month a 20 billion crown ($2.87 billion) fiscal stimulus package - 16.6 billion crowns in extra budget spending and 3.3 billion crowns in tax relief. * PORTUGAL — Announced a package in December worth just under 2.2 billion euros to boost GDP by a planned 0.7 percentage point in 2009. It will focus on investment in schools, boosting technology and alternative energy. * SLOVAKIA — Approved a stimulus package worth 332 million euros from reshuffling of budget expenditure. The measures include a partial and temporary reduction of payroll taxes, subsidies for new jobs and an increase in non-taxable income. * SLOVENIA — Package is expected to amount to some 800 million euros or about 2 percent of GDP and may offer subsidies to companies that introduced shorter labour hours due to lower demand for their products. It has also increased tax incentives. * SPAIN — Announced various measures to cushion the impact of economic slowdown and soaring unemployment, including a 38 billion euro stimulus package. It includes 6 billion euros in tax cuts and 4 billion euros of liquidity to credit-strapped companies and households. The government has said it will spend an extra 11 billion euros on public works. * SWEDEN — Announced a stimulus package worth 8.3 billion Swedish crowns ($1 billion) on Dec. 5, but was criticised as too cautious. The package totalled almost 3 percent of GDP. * TURKEY — Turkey’s parliament approved a stimulus package on Wednesday, including measures to support manufacturers, and will give the government the power to reduce some corporate tax on investment by up to 90 percent. It will also cut taxes on textiles and retail clothing by 75 percent for a five-year period if companies move their plants to certain cities. * UNITED KINGDOM — Britain pledged to spend 500 million pounds ($754 million) to tackle rising unemployment. The pledged money is part of a 20 billion pound fiscal package announced last November.
— Companies will get 2,500 pounds for new recruits unemployed for more than six months.
— The November package included tax cuts and 3 billion pounds of capital spending, amounting to about 1 percent of GDP. According to the pre-budget report it will reduce the effect of the downturn by 0.5 percentage point. It includes a value-added tax (VAT) cut from 17.5 percent to 15 percent until end-2009. * EUROPEAN UNION — The European Commission on Nov. 26 proposed an EU-wide fiscal stimulus package worth 200 billion euros or 1.5 percent of the bloc’s GDP — to be made up of 1.2 percentage points of budget spending and 0.3 percentage points of central EU funding.