Berlin (AP) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) today continues with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez her preparatory meeting for the EU summit on the reconstruction fund in the Corona crisis.
Merkel wants to receive Sánchez in the early evening (6.30 p.m.) at the Chancellery in Berlin. On Monday, she had already discussed with the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte ways out of the dispute over the billion dollar aid. Whether or not there will be a decision at the summit on Friday and Saturday in Brussels is open, although Merkel is pressing for a quick decision.
Italy and Spain have been particularly hard hit by the Corona pandemic and are potential main recipients of the planned EU aid. The Netherlands, along with Austria, Denmark and Sweden, are among the “Frugal Four” who refuse to reimburse non-repayable billions. According to the European Commission, 500 billion euros of the debt-financed reconstruction plan are to be granted as grants and 250 billion as loans. Merkel, who currently leads the EU Council Presidency, has the primary role as an intermediary.
Sánchez met his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte in The Hague on Monday, who was a guest in Berlin last week. During a visit to Sweden on Wednesday, the Spanish prime minister also wants to ensure that the EU reconstruction fund mainly consists of non-repayable grants.
Spain has to expect a roughly ten percent slump in gross domestic product (GDP) this year, and the country is already heavily in debt. With his request for grants, Sánchez is in line with the EU Commission and also with Merkel and France's President Emmanuel Macron. Like Italy's Prime Minister Conte, he is also concerned that aid to his country is not linked to reform requirements that could lead to unacceptable interference in Spain's social and economic policies.
After meeting with Conte on Monday in Meseberg north of Berlin, Merkel had outlined the dimensions of coping with the corona consequences. "The task is huge and therefore the answer has to be big," said the Chancellor. It is important for the planned European development fund "that it is something massive, that it is something special, that it will not be dismantled". Merkel said that she does not know whether an agreement will be reached at the upcoming EU summit. "There are still a long way to go."
Conte warned: "We have to act quickly, react quickly, because history tells us that the best reaction is not worth so much if it comes too slowly." Conte warned: "If we just let the crisis run like this, we would have the destruction of the internal market within a very short time." The Italian prime minister called the crisis "epochal".
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