The first virtual European summit opened on Friday morning. The 27 will try to agree on the EU’s huge recovery plan, whose economy has been damaged by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first virtual European summit is open: the EU’s 27 member states began complex negotiations on Friday, June 19, on a massive recovery plan for coronavirus. “The video conference (…) has begun,” tweeted BarendLeyts, spokesman for European Council President Charles Michel.
“We are on the usual dividing line between the countries of Northern Europe advocating orthodoxy,” Alix Le Bourdon, France’s 24 correspondent in Brussels, analyzes, and the southern countries hard hit by the economic crisis linked to the corona virus.
An agreement on this € 750 billion plan would mark a historic step in European construction. Since this sum would be borrowed for the first time on behalf of the EU in the financial markets, what has been taboo so far creates a common European debt.
“It is our collective responsibility to achieve,” said European Council President Charles Michel just before the start of the meeting.
“Today we are taking a decisive step forward to emerge from the crisis. We must gather, we have no time to lose,” added Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, whose proposal serves as the basis for discussions with member states.
This virtual summit must, above all, enable every leader to reveal his goals and his bargaining margins on this stimulus designed to support a successful European economy. Another summit, or even two, will be needed to reach an agreement to be reached by the end of July.
“It will be a warm-up lap, crucial for taking the temperature,” explains Élysée. In particular, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark, the four “economical” countries, very reserved with regard to this plan, which will mainly benefit the countries in the south.
European “Cohesion and Solidarity”
The discussion will focus on the Commission’s proposal for a € 750 billion “stimulus package”, largely inspired by the initiative of Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron – a heavy alliance in the debate.
This fund completes a revised EU budget proposal for the period 2021-2027 of EUR 1.1 trillion, which the Member States must also agree on.
Of the € 750 billion, € 500 billion would be redistributed under the EU budget in the form of subsidies to the countries most affected by the coronavirus, such as Spain and Italy, and € 250 billion in the form of loans.
“Cohesion and solidarity have never been more important than today,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday.