Battle lines between ‘frugals’ and the rest drawn in EU summit

Battle lines between ‘frugals’ and the rest drawn in EU summit

EU leaders are still trying to break the impasse over the union's budget and the proposed coronavirus recovery fund.

Early in the afternoon, leaders of the southern countries _ the Prime Ministers of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Italy, Giuseppe Conte, Portugal, Antonio Costa, and Spain, Pedro Sanchez, met with their counterparts in the countries dubbed “the frugals” for their opposition to the size of the fund as to any grants, instead of loans: Austria's Sebastian Kurz, Denmark's Mette Fredriksen, Finland's Sanna Marin, the Netherlands' Mark Rutte and Sweden's Stefan Lofven.

Earlier, Conte, Costa, Mitsotakis and Sanchez had attended another multilateral meeting, with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU Council President Charles Michel and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Austria's Kurz said Sunday that agreement on the third day of talks at an EU summit over plans to boost the bloc’s economies still has “a way to go” despite some progress.

“I believe that it is possible to reach an agreement at this summit. But yes, even though it is the third day, there is still a way to go,” Kurz said, according to Reuters.

“We have been negotiating for three days and, obviously, there has not been sufficient progress to reach an agreement,” Mitsotakis said Sunday. “I sincerely hope that we can overcome the impasse today.”

“I have noted since the very beginning that we all must compromise, but these compromises can't be such that they weaken our ambition for a brave European response to the coronavirus crisis and the financial storm it has caused. We are facing an unprecedented economic crisis and we don't have the luxury of appearing divided or weak,” Mitsotakis added.

Michel was expected to present yet another proposal to overcome the resistance of the “frugals,” especially the Netherlands, the most unyielding among them.


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