Thursday. 09.02.2023

EU leaders to debate face-to-face recovery fund on 17 July

Prime Minister Sanna Marín last week opposed the stimulus package, which includes € 500 million in grants to be distributed among member states.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin. Photo: Lauri-Heikkinen/Vnk.

The European Union's leaders are to meet in person for the first time in four months on July 17-18 to thrash out their differences on a planned joint Covid-19 economy stimulus package.

The talks in Brussels are to cover the recovery plan and the EU's next long-term budget, European Council spokesperson Barend Leyts announced on Tuesday on Twitter.

Leaders from the 27 EU states held an inconclusive first round of talks via videoconference last week, but many expressed hope that agreement could be found in July or August despite their diverging views.

At the centre of the discussion is a European Commission proposal for a 750-billion-euro package to help the bloc bounce back from a recession of historic proportions triggered by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Finland demands changes

The main problem, for the most defenders of fiscal discipline, lies in the nature of these funds. The Commission's plan establishes that 500 billion euros would be distributed as grants among the countries affected by Covid-19, a decision opposed by Finland and other member states such as Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin told EU leaders on 19 June that “Finland is constructive about the debate on the recovery instrument, as Europe's rapid recovery from the crisis is also in Finland's interest. However, we cannot accept the Commission's proposal as it stands, and changes are needed in many respects."

EU leaders to debate face-to-face recovery fund on 17 July