Merkel expresses uncertainty about approval of recovery plan at European summit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel today expressed uncertainty over the possibility of an agreement between the 27 countries of the European Union (EU) on a proposed € 750 billion recovery plan to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Reuters

"I don't know if we will reach an agreement" during the European summit on Friday and Saturday, he warned during a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Meseberg, near Berlin.

“Nothing is still safe. The paths we have to travel are still long, ”he added. "I don't know if we will reach an agreement from Friday, but that would be good for Europe," he said, implicitly admitting the need for a second summit.

The conservative leader, who congratulated herself on the “discipline and admirable patience” of Italians hard hit by the pandemic, insisted on the need for a “strong response” to this crisis that violently affects European economies.

"Because it is an immense task, the answer must also be important," he added. Merkel rejected any prospect of reducing the recovery plan, insisting on the contrary that it should "be massive".

The European summit must demonstrate that “Europe wants to be supportive. This implies a political dimension, beyond the numbers ”, as he pointed out, alerting to“ the need to build bridges ”between EU countries.

In turn, Giuseppe Conte underlined the need for Europeans to “act quickly”.

"We must act quickly because history teaches us that the best of reactions is not worth much if it comes very slowly," he added.

The extraordinary summit is tense because of the reluctance of the “frugal” States towards the Recovery Fund, the recovery plan that includes 250 billion euros in loans, and above all grants that reach 500 billion euros that should not reimbursed by the beneficiary States.

Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland, in particular, have shown great suspicion towards this plan, which will essentially benefit the countries of the south, with emphasis on Italy and Spain, those most affected by the devastating socio-economic consequences of the pandemic.

On Friday, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, presented a revised proposal for the recovery plan, which reduces the multi-annual budget 2021-2027 to 1,07 billion euros, but keeps the Recovery Fund at 750 billion.

The proposal that Charles Michel puts on the table with a view to reaching a compromise among the 27 later this month, drawn up after bilateral contacts with European leaders over the past few weeks, decreases the global amount of the Multiannual Financial Framework by around 2%. European Union for the next seven years compared to the Commission's proposal (€ 1,1 billion), but it does not aggravate the cuts already foreseen for cohesion and agriculture policy.

To 'please' the frugal countries, the President of the European Council proposes, among other measures, the maintenance of the controversial 'rebates', the 'discounts' from which large net contributors benefit, for Holland, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and also Germany.

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