29th Sep 2020


Divided EU leaders' first go at the recovery plans This WEEK

  • EU Council president Charles Michel will try to bring EU leaders closer together, online, on both the budget and recovery plans (Photo: Council of the European Union)

EU leaders will have their first discussion online on Friday (19 June) on the coronavirus recovery package and revised long-term budget proposed by the EU commission.

The leaders are not expected to agree yet, that requires at least one or more personal meetings, the first of which will be held in July in Brussels.

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The commission proposed a €1.1 trillion seven-year budget, slightly higher than the previous compromise proposal EU council president Charles Michel.

It also put forward a €750bn recovery package - comprising €500bn in grants and €250bn billion in loans to member states. The recovery would be financed through loans taken by the commission.

Countries have posed many technical questions to the commission on the proposals, which will also be discussed on Friday.

EU countries have so far been deeply dividedover several issues in the proposals.

One key issue are grants, with several member states, spearheaded by the Netherlands, only want to see as loans, distributed to member states under the recovery plan.

Another contentious issue are the rebates, which have been used in the past to compensate for the budget contributions of some relatively-wealthy countries.

And the size of the EU budget itself is still a matter of debate, while some member states also think the size of the recovery package is too large. Central European countries have criticised the package for benefitting wealthier countries.

Brexit check

There will also be a crunch meeting in the UK-EU negotiations.

On Monday (15 June), British prime minister Boris Johnson and EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen will check the temperature of the talks on the future relations that have progressed very little since the start of the year.

Their virtual meeting will be joined by Michel and EU Parliament president David Sassoli.

London has ruled out requesting an extension to the transition period beyond the end of the year, which means that a comprehensive trade agreement would have to be agreed in just four months.

That is all but impossible, so leaders are expected to give some guidance on which areas the negotiators should zoom into.

On Tuesday, EU affairs ministers will hold a videoconference discussing the state of negotiations, and will be briefed by EU negotiator Michel Barnier on the latest developments.

The ministers will also prepare the leaders' online meeting on the budget and recovery package.


On Monday, EU foreign affairs ministers will hold a video conference to discuss transatlantic relations and current affairs. US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, will take part in the video conference.

On Thursday (18 June), Michel and von der Leyen will hold an Eastern Partnership leaders' video conference, together with the 27 EU leaders.

They will be joined by the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

They are expected to confirm the strategic importance of the Eastern Partnership.

Parliamentary check

On Monday, MEPs in the civil liberties committee will debate a report on protecting journalists, hate speech and disinformation.

The law makers will also hear from commission vice-president Vera Jourova on disinformation.

The same day MEPs will also hear on the situation of migrants in the central Mediterranean from representatives from the commission, Frontex, the EU's border agency, and Sea Eye NGO.

The commission on Wednesday (17 June) will present its vaccine strategy in an effort to purchase promising vaccines on behalf of the 27 member states.


EU links access to recovery fund to economic advice

Most EU countries are now breach the common fiscal rules, as governments tackle the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. The commission plans to link recovery funds to countries following its budgetary advice - but sanctions seem to be few.


Mix of loans and grants in Commission €750bn package

Italy and Spain, the worst-hit EU countries by the coronavirus pandemic, will get much of the new money under the European Commission's recovery plans - that mark a turning point for the bloc in moving towards joint debt.

EU's virtual summit with China This WEEK

This week, the European Union and China are holding their first joint summit since April 2019. It comes amid the pandemic, which first surfaced in China's Wuhan, protests in Hong Kong and a belligerent US president.


EU budget: Don't repeat the austerity of 2008

European leaders have a historic choice on Friday when they dial-in to discuss how to stop a health crisis turning into a social one: will they learn the lessons of 2008, or opt again for austerity and short-term self-preservation?

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