A first day of intense discussions took place on Friday 17 July 2020 between the 27 leaders of the european Union in an attempt to reach a compromise on a stimulus plan, massive 750 billion euros, the object of resistance, in particular from the so-called " frugal ". This is the first time that the heads of State and government, who arrived a protection mask on the face, physically gathering in Brussels in nearly five months, due to the pandemic of Covid-19.
After more than seven hours of discussions in the conclave, they met for dinner shortly after 21 hours (19 hours GMT). It was preceded by meetings in smaller groups, as was shown in a photo in which you can see gathered on a terrace to the German chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, the French Emmanuel Macron, and the president of the european Commission Ursula Von der Leyen with the mediator-in-chief of the summit, Charles Michel, the president of the european Council.
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"The good news is that no one has left the room" meeting, has commented a diplomatic source. "All the world is constructive," said a source european. The menu of the negotiations : the recovery plan for post-coronavirus, comprising $ 250 billion of loans, and especially of grants of up to $ 500 billion, which will not have to be repaid by the beneficiary States. According to several european sources, the last-mentioned amount, which could be diminished, is at the heart of the talks.
Until Sunday ?
This stimulus plan is backed by the EU budget in the long term (2021-2027) 1 074 billion euros. Charles Michel has tested several variants of its original proposal for a compromise, the result of new discussions and a new draft could be presented to experts from the 27 after the dinner, said a source european. The discussions promise to be long and difficult, the unanimity of the member States being required. The summit, scheduled on two days, may last until Sunday.
According to the diplomatic source, the discussions have started with three topics particularly critical to the result of the summit : the global amount of the plan, the way would be monitored, the reforms undertaken by the main beneficiaries of the aid — essentially the countries of the south, and the question of "discounts" in the contributions granted to States who pay more money to the EU budget than they receive.
The "frugal" Countries — the netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Sweden — are demanding higher discounts. Their leader, the Dutch Prime minister, Mark Rutte, has arrived in Brussels felt "less than 50 %" the chances of an agreement. Deemed partially responsible for the failure of a summit in February, dedicated to the EU budget, this is the man to convince. He had an interview in head-to-head with Charles Michel before dinner. The "frugal" — joined by the Finland — have issued many reservations about the plan of support which should benefit first and foremost Italy and Spain. These two countries, the most affected by the pandemic, are also considered to be the most lax in terms of the budget by the States of the north.
Merkel's chief of orchestra
The chancellor of austria Sebastian Kurz stressed the need to know "to what would be used money" granted to the country in difficulty. The requirements of reform (labour market, pension system) of the States of the north drive those to the south, worried about being forced to submit to a program imposed by others, such as Greece at the height of the euro zone crisis. For better control of the national plans, consideration of money unblocked, Mark Rutte went so far as to ask that they should be validated by the unanimous vote of 27 (and not a qualified majority as provided by Charles Michel).
Another sensitive topic has already been discussed : the link between the payment of money and the respect of the rule of law, for the first time registered in an EU budget. Poland and Hungary, which are the subject of procedures within the Union due to interference with the independence of the judiciary or fundamental rights, curbing of the four irons.
In this grand bargain, Angela Merkel, who has backed the idea of a common debt, is raising a lot of hopes. Celebrating Friday its 66th anniversary, it has been filled with gifts : bottles of burgundy wine, belgian chocolates, rose oil Bulgarian, and even... a wand of a conductor.
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