EU leaders were making progress on Monday after three days of haggling over a plan to revive economies throttled by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned the discussions could still fall apart.
EU summit chairman Charles Michel urged the 27 leaders of the European Union to achieve “mission impossible” and reach an agreement.
Michel reminded the EU leaders that over 600,000 people had now died as a result of the coronavirus around the world, and it was up to them to stand together in the face of an unprecedented crisis.
Also, the European Council President said at their third dinner in a row at the Brussels conference centre that his hope is that they reach an agreement.
According to him, the headline tomorrow is that the EU has accomplished mission impossible.
“That is my heartfelt wish after three days of non-stop work,” he noted.
The leaders are at odds over how to carve up a vast recovery fund designed to help haul Europe out of its deepest recession since World War Two, and what strings to attach for countries it would benefit.
The meeting was adjourned until 1600 CET (1400 GMT).
After the adjournment was announced both the Austrian Chancellor Sebestian Kurz and Rutte said progress was being made at the talks.
“Tough negotiations have just come to an end and we can be very satisfied with today’s result. We will continue in the afternoon,” said Kurz.
Rutte said talks had been close to failing, but that chairman Michel was now working on a new EU compromise proposal.
“We are not there yet, things can still fall apart.
“But it looks a bit more hopeful than at the times were I thought last night that it was over,” Rutte told newsmen in Brussels.
Diplomats had said the leaders may abandon the summit and try again for an agreement next month if talks failed.
On the table is a 1.8-trillion-euro (2.06-trillion dollars) package for the EU’s next long-term budget and recovery fund.
The 750 billion Euros proposed for the recovery fund would be raised on behalf of them all on capital markets by the EU’s executive European Commission, which would be a historic step towards greater integration, and then funnelled mostly to hard-hit Mediterranean rim countries. (Reuters/NAN)