the 27 meet to negotiate a recovery plan

As the coronavirus epidemic takes over the world, the 27 leaders of the European Union will have to agree on Friday on a recovery plan, far from unanimous, despite the historic recession that threatens the old continent. This is the first meeting between the EU’s 27 heads of state and government since the pandemic began in Europe.

The leaders of the European Union (EU) will meet on Friday 17 July in Brussels to discuss the revival of the economy on the old continent affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which continues its development with a new record of pollution in the United States and now one million people infected in India and two in Brazil.

The virus has seriously affected the world economy and the EU has not been spared with tens of thousands of jobs at risk. On the negotiating table: a € 750 billion recovery plan, consisting of 250 billion loans and, in particular, € 500 billion in subsidies, which will not have to be repaid by the recipient countries.

This is the first time that the 27 EU Heads of State or Government have met in Brussels since the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe and the ensuing containment measures, forcing them to talk to each other remotely through video conferencing.

Extraordinary EU summit: 750 billion on the table for recovery

But the recovery plan is not unanimous. Every country that has the right to veto, the negotiations between the 27 promise to be long and difficult and this extraordinary summit planned for two days may not be the last.

The challenge is therefore significant, as Emmanuel Macron recalled when he arrived in Brussels. “It’s our European project that is being played out there for many,” he said. “I am convinced but careful. I will have the maximum level of ambition and with Chancellor Merkel, together with both President Michel, we will do everything we can to ensure that an agreement is reached.”

The same goes for Angela Merkel, who said on Friday that she expects the negotiations to be “very, very difficult”. “We are all coming to these negotiations with a lot of energy, but I have to say that the differences are still very, very big and therefore I can not yet say whether we will reach a solution this time,” the German chancellor told his press. arrival for this European summit.

“Agreements are important,” said the council president

In his invitation letter sent Wednesday night, the leader of the summit, the chairman of the council, Charles Michel, called on the heads of state and government to find a compromise to support the economy in the face of the pandemic.

“Now is the time. An agreement is essential. It will require hard work and political will from everyone,” the former Belgian Prime Minister warned in his letter.

Friday, Charles Michel was more optimistic: “I am absolutely convinced that with political courage it is possible to reach an agreement,” he said.

During the most recent face-to-face meetings, on February 20, they left a failure. They just had to agree on the EU budget for 2021-2027. But the crisis has gone there and a stimulus plan has been invited to the negotiating table.

Shared EU members

The most difficult to convince the leader should once again be the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who is already seen as partly responsible for the failure of the February summit. On Friday, he estimated the chances of success for this summit “at less than 50%”.

Leaders of the so-called “frugal” states – in addition to the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and to a lesser extent Finland – he expressed many reservations about the support plan that should benefit before all to the countries of the south, Italy and Spain in mind.

“Thrifty” is for a reduction in subsidies and prefers repayable loans over them. In addition, for all money paid, they demand solid reforms from the recipients.

In Brussels, Mark Ruttea reaffirmed his position: “Solidarity, yes […]. But at the same time, we can also ask these countries to do everything to solve [leurs problème]by themselves next time. And you do this through reforms of the labor market, the pension system … “, he launched.

Demands that make its neighbors to the south jump, worried about the obligation to submit to a program that others have introduced, because Greece had been at the height of the eurozone crisis, which forced its people to make painful sacrifices.

To better control these countries, which are considered lax at budgetary level, Mark Rutte wants their reform plans to be approved unanimously by the 27 (and not by a qualified majority as Charles Michel planned).

Another sensitive issue: the link between the payment of money and respect for the rule of law, which for the first time is part of an EU budget. However, Poland and Hungary, both of which are subject to proceedings within the Union for attacks on the judiciary, independent or fundamental rights, remain.

Angela Merkel’s supporters of the recovery plan

In this great debate, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country has held the EU presidency since 1your July raises many hopes.

The latter, who is celebrating his 66th birthday on Friday, has spared no effort to convince his comrades that it is urgent to adopt the support plan.

Alongside France, she agreed to large-scale borrowing of funds on behalf of Europe and broke a taboo in a country that has so far largely opposed the idea of ​​a joint debt.

With AFP and Reuters