During the third night of the European summit, French President Emmanuel Macron raised his tone on Monday morning against the Netherlands and Austria, so-called “sparse” countries, which are reluctant to adopt the European recovery plan specifically defended by France and Germany.
Will the “frugal” countries compromise with the European recovery? The fighting intensified on the night of Sunday 19 July to Monday 20 July between the Netherlands and Austria on the one hand, the two most resistant countries, and France and Germany on the other.
Emmanuel Macron condemns “inconsistencies”
During the dinner between the EU’s 27 leaders, French President Emmanuel Macron went out of his way to condemn the so-called “frugal” states (the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Denmark), to the will of Finland. He particularly attacked Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who were considered the most inflexible after three days of fruitless negotiations.
He criticized “their inconsistencies” during Sunday night’s dinner, according to a member of the French delegation
According to a European source, he claimed that it was France and Germany who would “pay for this plan”, in the “interest of Europe, when thrifty are selfish and do not make any concessions”.
We are ready to compromise without giving up ambition. Everyone must take their responsibility. Let’s continue together. https://t.co/zdcPkH0vSh
– Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) July 19, 2020
He blew up the behavior of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, when the latter suddenly left the table to make a phone call.
The Frenchman also compared the positioning of the Dutchman Mark Rutte with that of the former British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has often taken a hard line at European summits, but ended up losing the referendum on Brexit.
Earlier, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, had called on the 27 not to present “the face of a weak Europe, undermined by mistrust”, and demanded hope to avoid failure.
A compromise was rejected
At a time when a historic recession is hitting Europe, the reluctance of “thrift” threatens to track down a plan to support the economy, which would benefit the countries of the south, Italy and Spain in particular. EU leaders have been reunited since Friday morning and will not reach a compromise despite the repeated efforts of Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the union.
At the negotiating table is a fund consisting of a borrowing capacity of EUR 750 billion to revive the European economy, supported by the EU’s long-term budget (2021-2027) of EUR 1.074 billion.
Discussions stumble in particular on the distribution of funds between grants (which beneficiaries would not have to repay) and loans. In the first project, donations would amount to EUR 500 billion. But it has been proposed to reduce them to 400 billion, which is the limit of what Paris and Berlin are prepared to accept. Loans from the recovery plan would be increased to € 350 billion, up from € 250 billion initially, according to this new distribution.
However, this gesture in favor of the frugal, who prefer loans for donations, was rejected by those concerned and did not want to go more than 350 billion in subsidies.
The necessary unanimity in the 27 Member States makes an agreement particularly difficult. All the more so because there are other sticking points. Among them is the link between the payment of aid and respect for the rule of law, an idea which is particularly supported by The Hague, but which brushes Budapest and Warsaw, currently in the EU’s crusades.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban strongly opposed such a move on Sunday, accusing his Dutch counterpart of “punishing him financially” and “hating” him and Hungary.
During the summit, Charles Michel multiplied its commitments in favor of frugality, for example by increasing the “discounts” they favor as a country that pays more money into the EU budget than they receive.
He also tried to appease the Dutchman Mark Rutte, who demands that the national recovery plans presented by each country in return for support for the recovery plan be unanimously approved by the 27.
Such a configuration, which would de facto correspond to a veto for any capital, worries Rome and Madrid, which are afraid of being exposed to an introduced reform program (labor market, pensions, etc.).
Belgium presented a more nuanced mechanism, allowing a country that would have reservations about another state’s plan to open a debate for 27.