After many hours of negotiations, the leaders of the 27 EU countries have managed to strike a deal on the coronavirus recovery fund.
A press conference will be held later this morning with the details of the deal by European Council President Charles Michel.
— Charles Michel (@eucopresident) July 21, 2020
Prime Minister Mark Rutte will also give a press conference later today, RTL Nieuws reports. He revealed that it had been a difficult process and that it “had turned into a long weekend.”
After four days of meetings, Michel managed to bring the EU leaders on the same page on the EU budget and the coronavirus recovery fund. From what is known so far, the recovery fund has €390 billion in subsidies and €360 billion in loans, for a total of €750 billion.
Italy will receive 28% of the recovery fund, as it is one of the most affected countries by the coronavirus. Of that sum, €127 billion are a loan, while €81 billion are provided as a subsidy. Prime Minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, expressed his satisfaction with the deal, NOS reports.
It was not easy to reach a deal, as there is a conflict of interest between countries like the Netherlands and the hard-hit southern European countries. Mark Rutte especially received criticism for his pragmatic economic approach. In his view, he is simply defending Dutch interests.
At his insistence, safeguards and “emergency breaks” were implemented when it comes to allowing EU countries to access the recovery fund. The agreement stipulates that countries can be held accountable for the agreements they made before receiving the funds. “In the most extreme cases, that could mean pulling the emergency brake if those countries have not done enough,” Rutte stated.
Specifically, the emergency breaks are implemented for EU countries that break the rule of law and have a weakened independent justice. Poland and Hungary are two EU countries where the “emergency brakes” might be implemented if they do not backtrack on some of the changes they made to their justice systems.
The multi-year budget of the EU is now at €1074 billion. The Netherlands will receive a discount of €1.92 billion on the annual EU budget, as well as on using the subsidies from the recovery fund.
What do you think of the deal? Should the Netherlands be bailing out the south?
Feature Image: Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr