European Union (EU) leaders were chasing for compromises Saturday as a summit to reach a deal on an unprecedented 1.85 trillion euro ($2.1 trillion) EU budget and coronavirus recovery fund entered its second day with tensions running high.
Discussions of a full day and night by the 27 leaders on Friday only added to the irritations over how the huge sums should be spent and what threads should be attached, reports AP.
Dutch Prime Minister Rutte told Dutch reporters after Friday’s marathon talks. “This is going to take a while, I think.”
The EU executive has proposed a 750-billion euro fund, partly based on common borrowing, to be sent as loans and grants to the most needy countries.
Rutte is seen as a leader of four “frugal” nations that want conditions such as economic reforms attached to EU handouts to help countries recover from the hammer blow of the coronavirus.
After two fruitless sessions Friday, summit host and European Council President Charles Michel met key players - Rutte, French President Emmanuel Macron and Hungary’s Viktor Orban - in an attempt to narrow the gaps between them.
Orban does not want strings attached to EU funds, Rutte does and Macron is arguing that Europe must show solidarity to claw its way out of the crisis.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis was pessimistic after the first day. “I don’t have the impression that we are getting close to an agreement,” he said.
Rutte, however, said that “For a start, it helps if you better understand each other’s positions, then you can search for possible compromises.”