Merkel and von der Leyen will have six-months to promote their priorities, which are fully aligned, as the head of EU’s Executive said; climate change, digitalisation, resilience and post-Brexit negotiations with the UK. German Chancellor Angela Merkel along with the chief of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, have pushed for an agreement on the recovery fund and the bloc’s long-term budget, in July, to cope with the economic aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic. The €750 bn Next Generation EU package proposed by the Commission has prompted divisions among the bloc’s members, with the “frugal four”, namely Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden supporting the provision of loans that need to be paid back, instead of grants to countries hit by the pandemic. “I am going to Brussels on July 17 with the will to strike an agreement,” said Merkel, adding that even if negotiations were inconclusive, “there must be an agreement in the course of the summer anyway, I can’t imagine any other option.”
In the joint press conference that followed the two leaders’ virtual meeting, von der Leyen also highlighted that the fund needs the EU parliament’s nod and the ratification by national parliaments. She also noted that although changes are expected on both the recovery fund and Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027 proposals, the “general construction will not be challenged”. EU leaders are set to meet in person on July 17 and 18 for an extraordinary EU summit, in a bid to reach an agreement before the summer break. On Thursday, the two leaders held virtual talks on how to get the bloc out of the crisis, as Germany assumed on July 1, the rotating EU Council Presidency. “It is a huge time pressure, but it is the crisis that sets the pace,” the Commission President said, pledging also her support to Germany’s “good steer” of the presidency.
EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN MARQUART / POOL EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN MARQUART / POOL
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) speaks at a media conference in Berlin, 02 July 2020. Germany took over the rotating European Council Presidency for half a year on 01 July. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen (L, on screen) was connected to the media briefing by video conference. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Merkel, von der Leyen urge EU deal on recovery fund
By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe
epa08523345 German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) speaks at a media conference in Berlin, 02 July 2020.