Merkel Heads Into EU Recovery Fund Talks Ready to Compromise

By Patrick Donahue and Arne Delfs ,

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she’s prepared to compromise in difficult talks on assembling a European recovery plan this weekend in Brussels, as Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez urged leaders to reach an accord at the meeting.

“There are still different opinions to overcome,” Merkel told reporters Tuesday in Berlin alongside Sanchez. “But from the German side, we will go to Brussels with a certain reserve of compromise.”

Sanchez was more forceful, saying that Spain would do everything in order to forge an accord this month, insisting that leaders do not delay a resolution. “July must be the month of decisions,” the Spaniard said.

Sanchez’s visit to Merkel follows that of Italy’s Giuseppe Conte on Monday, during which the German and Italian demonstrated a common line in favor of a proposed 750 billion-euro ($855 billion) recovery plan. A handful of member states are voicing concern over the proposal’s cost.

‘Morally Unacceptable’
“It’s crucial that a decision will be made by the EU Council in July, and that it won’t be demeaned by a watered-down compromise,” Conte told lawmakers in Rome on Wednesday. “This would be politically, economically and morally unacceptable.”

EU leaders will gather in Brussels on Friday for the first time since the pandemic swept the continent. On the table is a recovery fund backed by Germany and France intended as a show of solidarity to nations hit hardest by the illness, such as Italy and Spain.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who is spearheading the resistance to the proposal, reiterated his demand for stronger conditions tied to EU grants, telling members of parliament on Tuesday that he is “somber” about the upcoming summit.

Rutte stressed the need for a governance structure that could monitor reforms and “if that governance is in order, that could be a road to subsidies,” adding that he doesn’t yet see that road.

Main photo: Angela Merkel. Photographer: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Bloomberg

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