European Union leaders’ views on a mass stimulus plan remained “diametrically different”, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Friday, after hours of talks on how to breathe life into economies ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.
The 27 EU heads are struggling to close ranks on the bloc’s 2021-27 budget, proposed at above 1 trillion euros, and a linked new recovery fund worth 750 billion euros, meant to help rebuild southern economies most affected by the pandemic.
“The opinions on the size of the recovery fund are diametrically different,” Babis told reporters as the leaders took a break in their all-day talks. “We will see if we even get to some agreement today, I rather think that we will not.”
“So far I don’t have the feeling we are getting closer to an agreement, I rather have the opposite feeling.”
European Union leaders take part in the first face-to-face EU summit since the coronavirus outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium .(Reuters)
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte led the thrifty camp of northern, wealthy states including Denmark, Austria, Finland and Sweden, facing off against Germany, France, the ailing southerners Italy and Spain, as well as Poland and eastern peers.
“If they want loans and even grants then I think it’s only logical that I can explain to people in the Netherlands...that in return those reforms have taken place,” Rutte said, in estimating chances for a deal at a modest fifty-fifty.