Brussels, Dec 11 (efe-epa).- The European Council summit was expected to be complicated and so it was: it took some 22 hours of uninterrupted negotiations for EU leaders, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to finally lift Poland and Hungary’s veto on the post-pandemic recovery fund and the reticence to meet the emissions targets for 2030.
At a press conference at the end of the meeting, she admitted she was relieved to have managed to settle those issues at the last summit of the EU heads of state and government of Germany’s presidency.
“It is a great relief,” said Merkel, who admitted to having “taken a weight off her shoulders” by approving the multi-year EU budget for 2021-2027 and the recovery fund.
That issue, along with the percentage of greenhouse emissions reductions by 2030 and improving relations with Turkey, were Germany’s policy priorities during its six-month presidency, a period that has been overshadowed by the Covid-19 pandemic which has suspended most of the face-to-face meetings between European leaders and their ministers, further hampering already complicated discussions.
Poland and Hungary had been blocking the approval of the EU’s post-pandemic recovery package because of their refusal to tie the funds to respect for the rule of law.
To convince Budapest and Warsaw, EU leaders approved a declaration that does not modify the conditionality mechanism, but clarifies that it will be applied in a “fair” and “impartial” way between the member states and guarantees that countries will be able to appeal to the European Court of Justice.
“We all see how the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic is hitting us hard. We will need money, we will need to invest in the future,” Merkel said.
The basis of the solution had been agreed a few days ago between the German EU Presidency and the Polish Deputy Prime Minister, Jaroslaw Gowin.
The unblocking of the recovery package, however, does not mean that it is definitely approved and that the money can start flowing to the states.