Brussels, Jul 19 (efe-epa).- The president of the European Council has reiterated his proposal that the European Union’s post-pandemic recovery fund should have 750 billion euros ($857 billion), including 400 billion in grants and 350 billion in loans, despite the so-called “frugal” countries’s rejection of the plan.
Charles Michel put this plan back on the table after proposing it at the start of the third day of the European Summit in Brussels on Sunday during the dinner of heads of state and government of the 27 member countries, European sources told EFE.
His spokesperson, Barend Leyts, said on Twitter that the European Council president called for a 45-minute break four hours after dinner began at 7:20 pm, the only time of the day when the 27 leaders were gathered in the same room after an intense day of consultations.
The so-called frugal four member states, Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark – joined by Finland on Sunday – reject this plan and propose to cut the fund by 50 billion euros to 700 billion, and that 350 billion be given as direct aid and the remaining amount in grants.
This would mean a 150 billion cut in grants over the initial proposal of the European Commission, which proposed that 500 billion be given in grants and 250 billion in loans.
They are also calling for an increase in the rebate in their annual contribution to the EU budget.
The other EU member countries have rejected the cut proposed by the frugal nations. France and Germany had already warned that they would not accept less than 400 billion euros in direct aid to deal with an unprecedented crisis.
Spain shares this position on grounds that this the minimum amount needed for the fund to have a macroeconomic impact.
According to several diplomatic sources, the frugal member states continue to block negotiations, especially the Netherlands and Austria, who are using the lack of agreement to link the receipt of budget funds to respect for the rule of law as an excuse to block discussions.
Sweden and Denmark, however, seem more receptive to softening their position.
The situation led European Council President Charles Michel to bang his hand on the table several times with the support of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, other sources indicate.
During the post-dinner break, which began at approximately 11:30 pm, Michel held bilateral meetings, including with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.
During dinner, all leaders wishing to take the floor spoke, after which the debate moved on to the issues that remain open, namely the volume of the fund, the ratio of grants and loans, the allocation criteria and the conditionality linked to the rule of law, according to European sources.
The leaders will meet again on Monday at 2 pm after ending the third day of the summit without an agreement.
The aim of the summit is to agree on an EU budget for 2021-2027 and the recovery fund to restart the European economy following the coronavirus pandemic, a package which must be jointly and unanimously adopted by the 27 member states. EFE-EPA