Home / World / “EU Leaders Make Progress on Stimulus Deal”
EU leaders make progress on stimulus deal

“EU Leaders Make Progress on Stimulus Deal”

BRUSSELS – European leaders are making progress after three days of haggling over a plan to revive economies strangled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned that the discussions could still crumble.
EU Summit President Charles Michel urged the 27 leaders of the European Union to achieve the “impossible mission” and reach an agreement.
Michel reminded leaders that more than 600,000 people died as a result of the coronavirus worldwide and that it was up to them to stay united in the face of an unprecedented crisis.
“I hope we agree and that the headline … tomorrow is that the EU has accomplished its impossible mission,” the President of the European Council said at his third consecutive dinner at the Brussels conference center on Sunday. “That is my sincere wish … after three days of non-stop work.”
Leaders disagree on how to divide a vast recovery fund designed to help lift Europe out of its deepest recession since World War II, and what measures to assign to countries that would benefit.
The meeting adjourned Monday until 4 p.m. (14:00 GMT).
After the postponement was announced, both Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Rutte said progress was being made in the talks.
“The tough negotiations have just ended, and we can be delighted with today’s result. We will continue in the afternoon,” Kurz said.
Rutte said the talks had been on the verge of failing, but that Michel was now working on a new proposal for an EU compromise.
“We are not there yet; things may still fall apart. But it seems a little more hopeful than the moments when I thought last night that it was all over,” Rutte told reporters in Brussels.
Diplomats had said the leaders could leave the summit and try a deal again next month if the talks failed.
On the table is a package of 1.8 trillion euros ($2.06 trillion) for the next long-term budget and EU recovery fund.
The EU Executive European Commission would raise the 750 billion euros ($856 billion) proposed for the recovery fund on behalf of all EU countries in capital markets, which would be a historic step towards greater integration. The fund’s money would be channeled mainly to the most affected countries in the Mediterranean.
European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde said it would be better for leaders to agree on an “ambitious” aid package than to have a quick agreement at any cost.
“Ideally, the leaders’ deal should be ambitious in terms of package size and composition … even if it takes a little longer,” he told Reuters news agency.
Lagarde’s comments suggested she was relaxed about the possibility of an adverse reaction in the financial markets if the summit fails, especially since the ECB has a war chest of more than 1 trillion euros ($1.1 trillion) to buy government debt.
News of the EU stagnation had little impact on the euro in early Asian trade, and analysts said markets were still hoping for a deal.
“I think the expectations were that we weren’t going to agree to this meeting anyway, but we needed enough to believe that one would come in August or September,” said Chris Weston, chief research officer for Pepperstone Brokerage in Melbourne, Australia.
A group of wealthy “frugal” states in northern Europe lobbied for a smaller recovery fund at the summit and tried to limit how payments are divided between grants and repayable loans.
On Sunday night, another attempt at compromise failed. The north rejected an agreement that provided for 400 billion euros ($457 billion) in subsidies, below the proposed 500 billion euros ($571 billion), which it said it considered the maximum of 350 billion euros ($400 billion).
There were also differences over a proposed new rule of law mechanism that could freeze funds for countries that do not respect democratic principles.
Hungary, backed by Poland, threatened to veto the package if its disbursement depended on conditions of compliance with the rule of law.
For some, the summit was a critical moment during nearly 70 years of European integration, and failure to reach an agreement could make financial markets nervous and cast doubt on the bloc’s viability.
The tense talks, though still shorter than an EU summit in the French city of Nice 20 years ago, underlined.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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