The Twenty-Seven continued their negotiations on Sunday on the European recovery plan that would enable the continent’s economy to recover from the coronavirus crisis. Angela Merkel raised the possibility “that there will be no result”.
Meetings have been multiplied between European leaders on Sunday 19 July in Brussels in the hope of avoiding a failure in the negotiations on the coronavirus recovery plan, which has revealed important divisions between the states.
On the third day of a summit scheduled to take place in two, after more than 55 hours of meetings, discussions resumed at 27, several times postponed, around a dinner around noon. 19.20 (17.20 GMT).
The frugal + Finland is blocking 375 billion in subsidies. The other 22 do not want to go below 400.
Are five countries ready to defeat the summit for 25 billion?
That’s the question on the dinner menu.
– isabelle ory (@isabelleory) July 19, 2020
The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, mediator at the summit, held several face-to-face meetings or small groups throughout the day, usually on the balcony of his office where a long table was installed and whose photos punctured social networks.
Things “move slowly”
The outcome of the summit, the longest by the leaders of the European Union (EU) since the Nice 2000 revision of the Treaties in the context of enlargement to the east (four days and four nights), remained very uncertain. Things are “moving slowly”, says a European source.
Luxembourgian Xavier Bettel, accustomed to summits for seven years, admitted that he “rarely saw such diametrically opposed positions, on many points”.
At the negotiating table is a fund with a borrowing capacity of EUR 750 billion to revive the European economy, which is facing a historic recession, with the support of the EU’s long-term budget (2021-2027) of EUR 1.074 billion.
>> Read: Covid-19: Why Europe is tearing up the economic recovery plan
Recent discussions have focused on the part of the stimulus fund that will be used for grants compared to what would be returned to the states in the form of loans (and therefore repaid).
The so-called “thrifty” countries (the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, with which Finland is associated) favor loans and advocate a reduction in the total volume of the plan.
The necessary unanimity in the 27 Member States makes an agreement particularly difficult. Especially since it is not the only point of friction.
Among these is the link between the payment of aid and respect for the rule of law, which is particularly brushing off with Budapest and Warsaw, currently in the EU’s crusades.
Paris and Berlin for large contributions
In terms of subsidies, France and Germany want a significant part of the stimulus budget to be devoted to them, in the spirit of the 500 billion fund they had proposed in mid-May. And they claim that the amount planned for direct support for national reform plans is 325 billion euros, as in the latest proposal, according to European sources.
The frugal has meanwhile offered a perfect balance between the two, according to these sources. “We are looking for a compromise between 350 and 400,” a source told AFP.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the day by warning that it was “possible that no result will be achieved”, while French President Emmanuel Macron warned that “compromises” could not be made “at the expense of” European ambition “.
The second day of discussion, under high tension, ended the night from Saturday to Sunday with a “very hard” meeting, according to several sources, between the French president, the German chancellor and the leaders of the four “frugal” and from Finland.
To try to appease the Dutchman Mark Rutte, especially reserved for the stimulus package and demanding unanimity for the validation of the national reform plans required in return for European support, Charles Michel proposed a mechanism allowing a country that would have reservations to start a debate at 27.
Such a configuration would de facto correspond to a veto for each capital. This request worries Rome and Madrid, who fear being subject to an introduced reform program (labor market, pensions …).