EU Summit Deadlocked Over Covid-19 Relief Fund



Photo credit: www.flickr.com/Marco Verch

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis attended a European Union summit where little progress was made in negotiations regarding a stimulus plan to aid economies deeply impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The in-person conference began on Friday, July 17, in Brussels, marking the first time that EU leaders physically convened since the start of the pandemic five months prior.

According to many of the 27 leaders who were present, the recovery fund was crucial to revitalizing their countries, with diplomats saying how many were at odds with the process.

The overall package size of the relief funds as well as the split between grants, repayable loans and the presence of rule-of-law strings attached were all points of contention.

Prime Minister Mitsotakis remained steadfast in his position that the ratio of grants to loans in the EU Recovery Fund should remain unchanged, saying that, “The big picture is that we are faced with the biggest economic depression since World War II.”

“We need … an ambitious solution because our citizens expect nothing less from us,” Greece’s PM further added regarding the welfare of the country and those impacted.

Officials present at the Friday summit stated that there was also a camp of wealthy states, mainly led by the Netherlands, that stood their ground on the recovery fund when faced with opposition from Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Spain and eastern European states.

As many EU economies are currently in deep recession, immediate relief measures such as short-time work schemes are starting to run out in midst of a looming autumn season.

The proposed sum in question includes the EU’s 2021-2027 budget of more than 1 trillion euros ($1.14 trillion), and a recovery fund worth up to 750 billion euros ($857 billion) that was funneled to Mediterranean coastal countries like Greece that were hit the most.

Greece and various other countries now want the recovery financing to prevent their economies from potentially taking on even greater burdens of dept in the future.

Regarding the EU’s Multi-annual Financial Framework, Greece also wants the EU to place emphasis on the External Borders Fund.

So far, no progress has been made on the proposal of the President of the European Union Charles Michel. President Michel outlines that a 70-30 distribution of the Recovery and Resilience Facility will be implemented, which is something that Greece is against.

If approved, under this proposal, 70 percent of funds will be committed during 2021 and 2022, while the rest of the 30 percent will be committed in 2023.