The talks between the leaders of the European Union (EU) aimed at reaching an agreement on a huge post-coronavirus recovery fund have stretched to the fourth day. The main division is among the countries, worst hit by the pandemic outbreak, such as Spain and Italy.
Some rich member countries are seeking to limit the size of the fund and control over the use of economic aid. They have argued that the proposed size of the grant, which is $858 billion, is too large and should be repayable loans, rather than grants.
With tempers flaring at times, the talks have reported having been testy. On Monday, Immanuel Macron, the French President, threatened to walk out of the discussions and banged his head on the table.
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Meanwhile, the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, acknowledged that the leaders were very close to failure, and discussions could fall apart at any time. The talks are scheduled to resume on Monday, it is now the longest summit since 2000 Nice, which lasted for five days.
Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, reminded the leaders that nearly 600,000 people have died because of the coronavirus outbreak. He further added that he hoped tomorrow’s headline would be ‘’EU has accomplished the mission impossible’’.
Globally, the total number of confirmed coronavirus infections surged to 14.5 million on Monday. The leaders of the member states are trying to negotiate on the recovery fund to help the worst-hit countries, and at the same time working on the bloc’s seven-year budget.
Since the government began imposing social distancing measures, this is the first face-to-face meeting between the leaders. The frugal four, led by the Netherlands includes Austria, Sweden, and Denmark, have been unwavering in their constant refusal to allow 500 billion pounds in forms of grants to countries hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
Italy was one of the earliest countries affected by the coronavirus, with nearly 35,000 deaths so far, one of the highest in the world. Giuseppe Conte, the Italian Prime Minister, said that the EU was under pressure from Frugals and described the discussions as ‘’heated’’. However, the Australian chancellor took to twitter, suggesting that there are positive signs of progress in the negotiations.
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