BERLIN (AP) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday called for a swift deal on a stimulus fund to lift the European Union out of the coronavirus recession, arguing that “every day counts”.
On Wednesday, Germany, which has the largest economy and the most populous country in the EU, assumed the rotating presidency of the EU for six months. This gives it a key role in convincing other bloc members from 27 countries to compromise on the stimulus fund and the EU budget for the next seven years – ideally when EU leaders meet on 17 to July 18 for their first summit in person in months.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen invited Merkel and senior EU officials to a meeting on July 8 to “take stock of progress” and prepare for negotiations.
“The road is rocky and a lot of good will and willingness to compromise on all sides will be required to reach our goal,” said Merkel in the upper house of the German parliament in a speech outlining her priorities for the EU presidency. . “But given today’s economic development, time is running out and every day counts.”
Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron proposed in May to create a one-time recovery fund of 500 billion euros ($ 563 billion) which would be funded by shared loans from the EU. This is a big step for Germany, breaking with its longstanding opposition to any type of joint borrowing.
The EU Executive Commission has enlarged the proposal by presenting plans for a € 750 billion fund mainly consisting of grants. He faces resistance from countries dubbed the “four frugals” – Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden – who oppose the subsidies and are reluctant to give money unconditionally.
“The situation is exceptional, so it requires exceptional effort,” said Merkel. She added that working for an economically and socially strong and united Europe “is also a decisive political instrument against the populists, against the anti-democratic forces, the radical and authoritarian movements”.
Source: AP News