October 29, 2020

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EU president urges leaders to complete ‘impossible mission’

EU president urges leaders to complete 'impossible mission'


Photo: ANP

In an emotional appeal, EU Council President Charles Michel called on EU leaders to reach agreement on the multiannual budget (MFF) and the related recovery fund for the Member States most affected by the Corona crisis. “I want European newspapers to make headlines for the impossible task of the EU,” he told insiders at Sunday night’s dinner. “Or do we want to show the face of a weak Europe undermined by mistrust?”

Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his colleagues have been arguing since Friday morning over the fund, which would initially amount to 750 billion euros. Of this, 500 billion would be provided through subsidies that do not need to be repaid and 250 billion in loans that would have to be repaid. Michel then listed a number of proposals which he had adapted, among other things, to Dutch demands and wishes.

As the day progressed, accusations kept flying. Prime Minister Rutte, who is seen as the “bad guy” who makes it impossible to reach agreement with his tough stance and tough demands, got the wind from different sides and for various reasons.

“I listened carefully to each of you,” Michel said. “I have shown the utmost respect to everyone,” the Belgian ex-prime minister concluded, announcing a break. Negotiations are expected to continue throughout the night.