Recovery Plan of the EU: on the fourth day, the 27 cling to the possibility of an agreement

Plan de relance de l'UE: au quatrième jour, les 27 s'accrochent à la possibilité d'un accord

BRUSSELS | The european leaders will continue their discussions on Monday afternoon in the hope of finding an agreement on a recovery plan post-coronavirus, in the fourth day of a summit painstaking, marked by deep dissension and ambitions downgraded.

This is “not finished, but it’s difficult to let go of the French president Emmanuel Macron out of the meeting. “An agreement is possible and an agreement is necessary,” said his Economy minister Bruno Le Maire in Paris.

For the German minister for foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, the continuation of the talks “shows that everyone wants a solution, rather than handing the problem to a later time”.

After a full day of discussions on Sunday, and then a long night of exchanges, the session between the 27 leaders of the EU was suspended at 6 am (midnight Montreal). It must take 16 pm (8 pm in Montreal). The summit, which began Friday morning, is the longest since that of Nice in December 2000.

The president of the european Council, Charles Michel, mediator of the summit, will present a new draft compromise to the capitals, is less ambitious than the initial draft.

Sources concur that he should propose to lower the share of grants in the stimulus package of 750 billion € 390 billion, compared to 500 billion in the initial proposal. The rest would be made up of loans.

“More optimistic”

It is a new step in the direction of the so-called “frugal” (the netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and Finland, which block any agreement from the start of the summit Friday.

The chancellor of austria Sebastian Kurz said that he was the adjournment of the meeting “satisfied with the result” obtained so far, and her colleague of the netherlands Mark Rutte, the more difficult to convince at this summit, it was recognized that progress had been made.

“We have not yet found any outcome, it may still fail. But I am more optimistic than I was this night at a given time, where I said, “it is finished”, he explained.

According to a French source, “the franco-German couple has done everything to bring the most reluctant around 400 billion” euros in subsidies, which were till then their red line.

“Very hard”

The day of Sunday has been marked by speech, at dinner, the French president Emmanuel Macron, which has raised the tone to denounce the lack of will and the “inconsistencies” of frugal, according to several sources.

He blasted the behavior of Sebastian Kurz and compared Mark Rutte to the ex-british prime minister David Cameron, who also had a hard line during the european summits, stressing that “this kind of positioning ended badly”, in reference to the Brexit.

“There has been a pass very hard. The President followed by the chancellor (Angela Merkel) has banged her fist on the table”, is there shown of French source.

At a time when an historic recession hits Europe, the reluctance of the frugal threaten to disrupt a massive plan to support the economy, which would benefit primarily the countries of the South such as Italy and Spain, the most affected by the epidemic.

“Weak Europe”

On the table of negotiations, a fund established by a borrowing capacity of € 750 billion (1165 billion $) to boost the european economy, backed by the long-term budget of the EU (2021-2027) of 1074 billion euros (1670 billion $).

The unanimity required of the 27 member States, makes agreement particularly difficult.

At the dinner, Charles Michel urged the 27 to agree to not present the “face of a weak Europe, undermined by distrust”.

It has multiplied throughout the summit, pledged in favour of frugal, for example, in attempting to respond to the request of Mark Rutte to confirm the unanimity of the 27 the national recovery plans submitted by each country in consideration of the aid.

He cautioned, however, that the effort on the maintenance of the discount obtained by the five countries (the frugal, as well as Germany) who deem their net contributions to the EU budget to be disproportionate, may not be as important as claimed.

Among the other points of contention, the link between the payment of aid and the respect of the rule of law, a measure supported by The Hague, but who cringe Budapest and Warsaw.

The Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has strongly opposed Sunday, accusing even his Dutch colleague of wanting to “punish him financially” and “hate” him and Hungary, while the alleged violations against the press freedom and democratic standards are still under evaluation by the EU.

These three points have focused the discussions since Friday, while the backbone of the package, the multiannual budget of the EU, has still not been dissected.

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