EU Recovery Package: Leaders Remain Deadlocked as Summit Enters the Fourth Day

The summit marathon over Europe’s proposed recovery package of €750bn for coronavirus pandemic entered its fourth day on Monday as the EU leaders still remain deadlocked. The battling opinions and approaches of European countries across north and south, and east and west, are just too diverse and complex to overcome.

The summit that started on Friday in Brussels has exposed laying bare the deep and ignored differences between European nations over the amount, design and conditions of the post-pandemic recovery package which is including loans and grants to revive the Europe’s economy as the bloc revives from Covid-19 pandemic crisis.

The opposition is mainly from the famous “Frugal four” – Austria, Sweden, Netherlands and Denmark. These countries are against the amount of loan and the said conditions attached to the amount. They are of firm stand that the recovery amount must be given as loan rather than grants, and must have returning conditions attached to it. The leaders are also said to have clashed over the how the “police countries” respect the rule of law – especially with face off of Hungary’s Viktor Orban against Western leaders in relation to the fundamental rights getting associated with the recovery fund plan.

The summit, still in progress, has seen the discussions turning into heated arguments at times, with mostly testy talks. On Monday, the fourth day of summit witnessed French President Emmanuel Macron banging his hand on table early on the day, and threatening to walk out of the talks. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has remarked that talks could any time “fall apart” with leaders heading towards failed talks as they are nowhere close to an agreement.

The summit in Brussels is a result of months of planning to propose a financial plan for bloc’s economic recovery from pandemic, keeping the countries in dire need a priority. The plan to borrow money from financial markets is an unchartered territory for EU which has caused the differences between EU leaders bare and forced to work upon.

Sunday had all the leaders partake into small group meetings in the Europa building in Brussels, before they can head back in the same room together to overcome the points of disagreements.

The frugal nations have been pushing to cut down the package amount for them to sign on the compromised agreement. They have asked the package to be reduced to €350bn from the originally proposed €500bn by the commission. Some countries are however predicting that the amount can go to settle somewhere around €400bn.

A diplomat commented, “Leaders are working very hard to bridge the differences, which are still there. It might take a while.”

On Monday, Austrian Chancellor tweeted that the latest proposal on table is around €390bn, indicative of some progress.

Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “I still cannot say whether we will find a solution. There is a lot of goodwill but also many different positions.”

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