EU President asks leaders to “accomplish impossible mission”
They did nothing
In an emotional appeal, EU President Charles Michel urged EU leaders to make a deal on the multi-annual budget (MFF) and the related recovery fund for the Member States most affected by the corona crisis. “I wish European newspapers headline that the EU has accomplished an impossible task,” he told insiders at dinner on Sunday evening. “Or do we want to show the face of a weak Europe, undermined by mistrust?”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his colleagues have been tug of war since Friday morning mainly about the fund that would initially amount to 750 billion euros. Of this, 500 billion would become available through grants, which do not have to be repaid, and 250 billion in loans, which must be repaid. Michel then listed a series of proposals that he adapted to meet Dutch requirements and wishes, among other things.
Reproaches flew back and forth all day long. Prime Minister Rutte, who is considered the “bad guy” who makes an agreement impossible with his rigid attitude and hard demands, got the wind from various sides for various reasons.
“I listened carefully to each of you,” said Michel. “I have shown the utmost respect for everyone,” concluded the former Belgian Prime Minister and announced a pause. According to insiders, negotiations can continue all night.
Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel passed up dinner. He had to chair a corona meeting in his own country and is represented by the Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès. Bettel announced that he would return to Brussels after the Luxembourg meeting.
Incidentally, progress has already been made. The big gap between “thrifty” opponents of including aid in the recovery fund that recipients do not have to repay, with Rutte as the banner, and advocates of such subsidies would have shrunk. The Netherlands and its other frugal allies would now be prepared to grant up to 300 billion in subsidies.
Rutte’s action at the EU summit provokes resentment in other countries. According to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, it is reminiscent of the Cold War communist dictatorship. Rutte “hates” his Hungarian colleague and Hungary, Orbán said earlier today. “He’s attacking so hard.” And Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron walked ‘briskly’ last night in Brussels out of consultation with ‘the stiff’ Prime Minister Rutte and his ‘thrifty’ Austrian, Danish, Swedish and Finnish allies.