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With Japan preparing a total of some ¥200 trillion in economic recovery measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the United States having passed a $2.2 trillion aid bill and considering more, the European Union’s €750 billion ($826 billion) plan to help address the economic crisis looks insignificant in comparison.

Focusing on the financial bottom line misses the point, however: The real significance of the EU proposal is how it will work, and its implications for an institution that has underperformed — and whose very existence has, at times, been threatened — for over a decade. If adopted, the plan could transform the EU from a loose union of countries into a genuine federation of states. There is a long way to go, but if it succeeds, a United States of Europe could emerge from this crisis.

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