BRUSSELS (AFP) - The European Commission called on Wednesday for a 200 billion euros (259 billion dollars) stimulus package to snap Europe's economy out of recession through spending hikes and tax breaks. "Coordinated European action can and will make a difference," commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso stressed as he unveiled the wide-ranging package. "Business as usual is not an option." Of the total, 170 billion euros will come from national government budgets and about 30b euros from the budgets of the EU and the European Investment Bank. Barroso said the bulk of the measures would be rolled out as soon as the beginning of next year and the rest over the course of 2009 and 2010. The combined national and EU campaign, worth the equivalent of 1.5 percent of the European Union's GDP, exceeded the 130 billion euros that Barroso had mooted as a possible target in recent days. The EC will urge member states to formally sign on to the plan at a Dec 11-12 summit and asked finance ministers to ensure that it is followed up afterwards. "I expect this package to receive strong support from European governments," Barroso said. While Brussels has been drafting pan-European recovery plans, a growing number of individual EU countries have pressed ahead with their own national packages. Germany, Europe's biggest economy, has voiced skepticism about EU-wide initiatives and German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Wednesday against a "race" between European states over the size of their stimulus measures. "We should not fall into a race of billions (of euros)," Merkel said in a speech to the German parliament. Earlier this month, Berlin unveiled measures that Merkel says are worth 32 billion euros and should constitute Germany's contribution to the EU measures. Usually the guardian of budgetary rigour, the European Commission urged the 27 EU governments to step up spending and craft targetted tax breaks in the face of the worst recession in decades. While it would be up to governments to decide on the balance between spending and tax initiatives, the commission urged them to focus on measures to help the poor and investments that would benefit Europe in the long term. It said governments should consider cutting cutting employers' social charges and the commission planned to bring forward spending under an EU social fund that can be used to soften the blow of mass layoffs. The commission also called for increases in research and development spending, citing the car and construction industries, and particularly for energy-efficient technologies. Despite its call for increased spending, the commission said that governments would still be expected to respect the EU's fiscal rules, which give considerable leeway in tough economic times but over time call for budget deficits to be kept below 3.0 percent of GDP . The EU package remains dwarfed by similar measures taken in the United States while the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama is reportedly working on plans worth as much as $700 billion. "I see a significant risk that Europe's fiscal policy response to the crisis might be too slow and insufficiently ambitious, mirroring the cautious monetary policy response," said economist Marco Annunziata at Italian bank Unicredit. The commission noted that there is "scope for further reductions in interest rates" in light of fast deteriorating economic conditions.