From left to right: Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, French President Emmanuel Macron and President of the European Council, Charles Michel, the July 18, 2020 in Brussels. - NEW CHINA / SIPA

It's go again. Unable to find a compromise after two days of summit, the 27 leaders of the European Union decided Saturday evening shortly after 11pm to play the extra time and meet again this Sunday afternoon. The objective is always to overcome blockages on the massive post-coronavirus recovery plan under discussion.

Bilateral meetings

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel left directly on Saturday evening for a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, according to a diplomatic source. The two leaders wish to ask the Dutch Prime Minister if he is able to negotiate on the blocking points on Sunday, it was said. Council President Charles Michel also hopes to convince Mark Rutte with a further modification of the compromise proposal.

The unanimity of the member states being required, a compromise is particularly difficult on the recovery plan, backed by the long-term budget of the EU (2021-2027) of 1.074 billion euros. Charles Michel had launched the discussions on Saturday on the basis of a revised proposal offering more pledges to the most reluctant countries, Netherlands in mind, at the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčthis plan of 750 billion euros, financed by a joint loan and inspired by Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. "The Netherlands and other frugals (Austria, Denmark, Sweden) do not understand the need for a strong response," lamented Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. "It is, as you might expect, a difficult battle, a tough negotiation, but we are going in the right direction and this is the most important," said Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

Increase the share of loans to 300 billion

Charles Michel, mediator of the summit, hoped to change the position of the recalcitrants by offering concessions on the distribution between grants and loans, as well as on the conditions that frame the payment of money. At the end of the day, one of the options on the table was therefore to increase the share of loans to 300 billion, against 250 in the initial proposal. According to a European source, the "frugal" indeed clearly prefer loans to grants.

In addition to these delicate subjects, others still promise to weigh on the discussions, in particular the question of linking the payment of European aid to respect for the rule of law, which bristles with Budapest and Warsaw. The discussions are therefore not over.

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