Brussels: The EU managed to reach a deal to boost the bloc’s post-pandemic economies after Charles Michel, president of the European Council and chair of the summit, offered compromises over a 750 billion-euro ($860 billion) recovery fund.
Some countries, dubbed the “frugals”, had been concerned about the proportion of grants under the fund. Non-repayable grants will total 390 billion euros compared with the 500 billion euros originally proposed. Disbursements will also be linked to governments observing the rule of law.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said the talks took “four long days and nights of negotiation … but it was worth it,” she said. “This is a sign that Europe is able to act. Before Europe was often accused of being too slow to act. In this case, it is the opposite.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, expressed relief that Europe had shown itself equal to “the greatest crisis in the history of the European Union”.
With Macron and Merkel negotiating as the closest of partners, the traditionally powerful Franco-German alliance struggled for days to get the quarreling nations in line, with threats of a French walkout, a Hungarian veto – and fierce opposition from the Netherlands and Austria opposed to too generous a package.