Thursday 16.07.2020

EU's von der Leyen dampens expectations for virus aid summit

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: Etienne Ansotte/EU Commission/dpa.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: Etienne Ansotte/EU Commission/dpa.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is not getting her hopes up that a special summit next month will find a compromise on a multibillion-euro post-pandemic reconstruction plan.

"We'll see whether we can reach an agreement on the first attempt," she told the Handelsblatt newspaper on Saturday, adding that a second summit on the 750-billion-euro (842-billion-dollar) programme may be necessary for EU leaders to find a compromise in the negotiations.

The recovery plan is being negotiated alongside the medium-term EU budget, for which the commission foresees 1.1 trillion euros in spending between 2021 and 2027.

The special summit is scheduled for July 17 and 18.

During a video conference last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and colleagues voiced their criticisms of the commission's proposal.

The obstacle of grants

Countries such as the Netherlands, for example, do not want EU aid money handed out in the form of non-repayable grants, while Germany criticizes the criteria for fund allocation, among other things.

Highly indebted member states, such as Italy, should not be strangled by ever-increasing interest burdens, von der Leyen told the Handelsblatt, justifying the planned allocations of subsidies.

At the same time, countries such as the Netherlands were within their rights to demand the money be linked to reform requirements, she added.

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