EU leaders gathered for the first time since the start of the coronavirus at a summit in Brussels. Met until late Friday night and continued on Saturday to approve the budget for the next seven years and the aid package for member countries.
In masks and without kissing or shaking hands. At the first live summit, after several months of online communication, EU leaders greet each other in their own way... Someone elbows, who bows, everyone has their own gestures. As well as the vision of what decision this meeting should end with. On the first day after 13 hours behind closed doors, around midnight, they left without a result.
Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands:
Annoyance grew. And this is understandable because everyone wants to protect their country after the coronavirus. But, in my opinion, it is only possible to provide huge grants to States with much more careful supervision than usual.
It was after threats by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to veto EU Council decisions that the leaders went on a break until Saturday. Rutte did not like the idea of providing grants to the countries most affected by the pandemic вЂ” Italy, Spain, and Greece. He is convinced that the effective method is not subsidies, but loans. And you need to borrow money only if countries are ready for reforms. And if those who receive loans but do not fulfill their promises, then payments should be blocked.
Emmanuel Macron, President of France:
Europe is currently experiencing an unprecedented crisis not only in terms of health but also in terms of economic and social issues. We need solidarity and ambition here. The position of France and Germany is based on the proposal of the European Commission. And we need to find a compromise to remain in solidarity with the regions most affected.
The southern EU countries should benefit from the new seven-year budget and the aid that the leaders are now trying to approve. And this does not please the Eastern States, which usually received more subsidies. The new approach involves more aid in places where the economy has been in a sharp decline in recent years.
Andrej Babis, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic:
This approach is wrong. Therefore, the Czech Republic has always been the best in overcoming unemployment and paying off debts. Countries should not be penalized for their success. Why stimulate the state to increase unemployment?
Brexit also complicated the negotiations. After the UK left the bloc, EU leaders had to cut a number of expenses. And here it is impossible not to touch someone's interests. And the issue is no longer even so much about the budget as about preserving the unity of the EU.