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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
- Britain eases – despite concerns about the second wave
A step towards normalcy despite fears of a second wave: Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to encourage the British to get back to work. Everyday life is possible again before Christmas, said Johnson on Friday. Schools, kindergartens and universities should open again from September. In the future, employers should decide about home office or presence at work: “Instead of the government prescribing people to work from home, we will ask employers to make decisions about how their employees can work safely,” said Johnson at a press conference in London. “This could mean that they will continue to work from home, but it could also mean that workplaces are made safe by following the Covid Secure guidelines.” If necessary, tightened again Great Britain is the country with the most corona deaths in Europe. Recently, scientists had warned of a second wave of infections that could kill up to 120,000 people. Johnson announced that if necessary, the measures would be tightened again: “Wherever the facts suggest this, ministers will have the option of closing entire sectors in an area, ordering people to stay at home, preventing people from entering or leaving certain areas, reducing the maximum size of assemblies beyond national regulations, or restricting the local transportation system. ” Return to the sports stadiums? Johnson would rather be normal as soon as possible. This also includes opening the sports stadiums: Johnson said that spectators should come back from October – at least as long as distance rules can be observed and test runs are successful. From the end of July, testing will initially start at several cricket games, a snooker tournament and a horse race.
- Coronavirus: Barcelona and surroundings in soft lockdown
Around four million people in the greater Barcelona area are encouraged to stay at home for the next 15 days to stop the sharp rise in coronavirus infections. The authorities recommend that residents of Barcelona and 17 surrounding communities leave the house only for work and groceries. In the near future, people should not travel on weekends and go to their apartments. The virus had recently broken out among seasonal workers in the Lleida region. Only recommendation, no ban, government spokeswoman Meritxell Budo: “Citizens of all affected communities should stay at home as far as possible and only go out when it is not absolutely necessary. This is our demand. It depends on all of us that the virus is in in the entire region. ” The regional health minister said Alba Vergés: “The contagions mainly take place at family and social gatherings. The first goal is to reduce these social contacts.” Meet only up to 10 people. Cultural and sporting events are again severely restricted. Meetings of more than 10 people should be avoided. So far, these have only been recommendations from the Catalan health authorities. But it could be a step towards more drastic measures if the infection numbers continue to rise.
- Covid problem child Sweden: The looseness is gone
Comparing the cases of coronavirus infection per 100,000 inhabitants, Sweden is only surpassed by Luxembourg in the European Union. Two months ago, there were around 300 new cases every 100,000 in Sweden, and since the beginning of July there have been regularly around 700 to 750 cases a day. Sweden had opted for comparatively loose quarantine measures to curb the spread of the pathogen. Nevertheless, the development is right, the authorities emphasize. “Numbers in all groups declining” “If you look back over the past two weeks, the numbers in all groups are declining. Since the beginning of April we have had a decrease in the number of people in the intensive care unit and the number of deaths, ”says Karin Tegmark Wisell, head of the microbiology department at the Swedish Health Service. “You also have to pay attention to what the test strategy looks like, which population groups you test, whether you test people with signs of illness,” she explains. The number of Swedish cases is also so high because it shows many people with whom Covid-19 is mild and who are normally not classified as sick, the authorities said. The head of the microbiology department at the Swedish Health Office emphasized that the population was always recommended to work from home if possible. However, there were no curfews in Sweden, restaurants and most shops remained open, as did some of the schools.