EU summit: Merkel wants decision today

EU summit: Merkel wants decision today

The meeting of EU heads of state and government goes into the third day. A compromise on the Corona construction fund is to be found. Or does the summit fail? From Brussels Bernd Riegert.

© Getty Images/AFP/F. Seco
Lonely on the red carpet: Chancellor Chancellor Merkel

When she arrived at the summit building in Brussels, the current EU Council President, Chancellor Angela Merkel, missed all hopes third day of the EU special summit could bring the breakthrough. “I still cannot say whether a solution will be found,” said Angela Merkel, standing on the red carpet with a hint of an embarrassed smile.

The lines of conflict around the Development fund for the economy shaken by Corona and the seven-year EU budget was “well prepared,” said the Chancellor. “There is a lot of good will. But there are also a lot of positions. And so I will work for it. But it may also be that no result is reached today.” Angela Merkel more or less excluded a further extension of the session marathon, which had been going on since Friday. The third day of the summit, today’s Sunday, was the decisive one.

Working on the next suggestion: where are the red lines? Michel (left), Merkel (Mi), Macron (2nd from right), von der Leyen (right)

© Reuters/F. Francois Walschaerts
Working on the next suggestion: where are the red lines? Michel (left), Merkel (Mi), Macron (2nd from right), von der Leyen (right)

The usual inquiries from journalists to the arriving summit participants were not possible. To rule out corona infections, journalists are not allowed in the building at this first special physical summit. So it is relatively difficult to find out what is actually going on in the conference rooms of the EU grandees. The size of the delegations was also reduced. The heads of state and government are only allowed to take six instead of the usual 20 employees in order to be able to keep their distance better.

Volume and distribution still controversial

The European Union had decided to put together a financial package totaling 1.8 trillion euros to counter the consequences of the corona pandemic. The EU Commission expects the worst recession and the highest unemployment rates in the history of the EU. At the beginning, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned: The world is looking at Europe and is watching whether the EU can get out of the crisis together.

The permanent chairman of the summit, Charles Michel, is to submit a third compromise proposal with Angela Merkel to reconcile the different positions. The so-called frugal states – in other words, richer net contributors to the budget – are calling for the volume of grants in the development fund to be reduced. Finland has now officially joined the previous “Frugal Four” (Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Austria). These five countries only want to put 300 billion euros on the table instead of the previously planned 500 billion euros.

Situation report of the

© picture-alliance/AP Photo/F. Seco
Situation report of the

The recipient countries Spain, Italy, Greece, Poland and others reject this as an imposition. Italian media see this on Sunday morning as an “attack on Italy.” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Saturday that the dispute, especially with the Netherlands, has not yet been resolved. A clear and strong answer is needed in the fight against the economic crisis.

There is also controversy over how to control the use of funds. The Netherlands demand a veto right if Italy wants to finance certain projects. Premier Conte rejects that. At most, it is ready for controls that a majority of EU members would have to decide on. A veto right is out of the question for him.

Hungary, Poland and Slovenia are opposed to the idea of ​​combining the rule of law with the disbursement of funds from the EU budget. Many member states had supported this in order to stop the erosion of the rule of law in Poland and Hungary through their wallets, so to speak. At this point, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban threatens to veto the entire trillion package. In the end, all EU member states must unanimously approve the construction fund and the budget.

Ineffective efforts

That night Chancellor Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron had tried to talk to the thrifty five at a hotel bar after the actual summit. More formal mediation talks had previously failed. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who has not moved far from his position at the summit, reported that Merkel and Macron had “offended” the mediation talks and cut them short.

Macron demands to think outside the box: it's about Europe

© Reuters/F. Seco
Macron demands to think outside the box: it’s about Europe

French President Macron was a little more confident than the Chancellor at the beginning of the third day of the summit. Yes, a compromise is possible, Macron said when entering the Europa building, but “we must not sacrifice our European ambitions”. Macron had always emphasized the historical dimension of this special summit. It was the moment of truth for Europe. “We need unity,” he warned.

European policy expert Olaf Böhnke told DW that another special summit at the end of July is likely. The differences are too big at the moment.

Author: Bernd Riegert

Video: where to with the billions? Italy at odds over EU reconstruction fund (Euronews)

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