EU leaders show first signs of compromise on stimulus plan

epa08555863 German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) leaves in the early morning after the third day of the European Council in Brussels, Belgium, 20 July 2020. European Union nations leaders meet face-to-face for a third day to discuss plans responding to coronavirus crisis and new long-term EU budget. EPA-EFE/JOHANNA GERON / POOL

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Signs emerged that leaders of northern European Union countries were willing to compromise on a 1.8 trillion euro coronavirus stimulus plan on Monday as talks in Brussels extended to a fourth day.

Divided and slow to respond at the start of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, EU leaders believe they now have a chance to redeem themselves with an aid plan that would show Europeans the bloc can react to a crisis.

But old grievances between countries less affected by the pandemic and the indebted countries of Italy and Greece, whose economies are in freefall, have resurfaced, pitting Rome against The Hague and its allies in Stockholm, Copenhagen and Vienna.

With leaders not expected to restart until later this afternoon, much rested on European Council President Charles Michel’s efforts to present a new basis for a deal, taking into account the competing demands of north and southern Europe.

Meanwhile, Bruno Le Maire, France’s economy minister said on the radio Monday that a deal on recovery is “possible and a necessity.” He appealed to all EU countries, and especially the frugal four, to put the European general interest above national interests.

“The President of the Republic [Emmanuel Macron] and the Chancellor [Angela Merkel] are constantly fighting to make people understand what is at stake in these negotiations,” he said. “States must go beyond their national interests.”

via Reuters / Politico

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