- The meeting lasted 13 hours, and ended in the early morning hours of Saturday.
- It is very important for Chancellor Merkel to reach an agreement on providing financial assistance to the member states of the EU.
- Countries in Northern and Central Europe are adamant that any assistance be loans, not grants.
It was past midnight when the leaders of the EU member states left the meeting on economic and financial aid to deal with the consequences of the Coronavirus crisis without result. The meeting is considered to be the first non-virtual meeting after the coronavirus outbreak in Europe.
The meeting lasted 13 hours, and ended in the early morning hours of Saturday. The talks, however, are set to continue. The importance of the meeting on financial aid related to the Coronavirus crisis was so great that it was not possible to hold it online and virtually.
All the leaders and leaders of the EU member states had traveled to Brussels to reach an agreement on the amount and manner of financial assistance. During the 13-hour meeting, the leaders of the member states addressed issues related to the allocation of €750 billion in public meetings as well as in bilateral or multilateral talks.
The meeting ended, but is continuing today, with the presence of the leaders and leaders of the EU member states.
Germany’s Position in the Negotiations
The German TV news program Tagesschau’s website referred to the bilateral meetings and the speech of German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the plenary session of the European Union High Conference.
It is very important for Chancellor Merkel to reach an agreement on providing financial assistance to the member states of the EU in the field of dealing with the consequences of the Coronavirus crisis.
After the 13-hour meeting, Merkel told reporters, “of course, we want this agreement. But we should not be optimistic about this and ignore the facts.”
Merkel stressed that reaching an agreement on the allocation of €750 billion in financial aid depends on the readiness and cooperation of all member states of the EU. She said the aim of the agreement was to take a step in the interests of Europe and the people of Europe.
Positions of Italy and Spain
The projected bailout package will mainly benefit southern European countries, which have suffered great economic losses as a result of the outbreak of the Coronavirus. Among them are Spain and Italy.
“We need a quick solution to the crisis,” said Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Like Chancellor Merkel, he believes that reaching a speedy agreement is in the interest of all EU member states.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is pursuing a similar policy and goal. “This is a very important meeting of the Council of the European Union,” he said. “I can even speak of this conference as a historic one. Reaching a comprehensive agreement can be a challenge for European countries.”
Sanchez has called on all EU member states to do their part to reach a good agreement. The Spanish Prime Minister stressed the importance of this agreement for the citizens of Spain and the people of other countries that have suffered from the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
According to him, the importance of this agreement is not limited to the health of citizens but also includes economic and social areas.
Loan or Assistance?
One of the issues that sparked heated debate at the Council of Europe summit was how to raise the money to deal with the Coronavirus crisis. The question is how much money should be made available to the applicant countries on the basis of what criteria and conditions.
The Netherlands, for example, believes that the allocation of this money should be conditional on the implementation of certain reforms. In addition, the Netherlands has demanded a veto in the event that the money is given to Spain and Italy as aid.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz also stressed that most of the money should be in the form of loans to countries in need, not in the form of grants. Kurtz also stressed that allocating such money should not lead to an increase in the EU’s heavy debt in the long run.
Although the summit of the EU member states ended without a result, the member states have not yet lost hope of reaching an agreement.