European Council President Charles Michel on Tuesday thanked Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for his dedicated work during Croatia’s six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Michel sent a letter to the member states’ leaders, inviting them to a summit to be held via video link on Friday, and the last European Council meeting to be held during the Croatian presidency.
“We will… begin our meeting with a short presentation by Prime Minister Plenković on the results of the Croatian Presidency of the Council. I would like to thank him very warmly for his hard work and dedication at a particularly challenging time.”
The central theme of the meeting will be the Multiannual Financial Framework and the Recovery Plan. It will be the first time the package which the Commission published on 28 May is discussed.
Michel said the meeting on Friday “should be a crucial stepping stone towards an agreement at a subsequent physical meeting” in Brussels.
The Commission’s Recovery Plan to help the economy deal with the COVID-19 crisis is worth €750 billion and the MFF €1,100 billion. The Recovery Plan, called the Next Generation EU, consists of €500 billion in grants for the most affected member states and sectors and €250 billion in favourable loans. A total of €1.85 trillion has been proposed for the MFF and the recovery and resilience instrument.
The Recovery Plan has been supported by a majority of the member states, while a few are either against or sceptical. The biggest opposition has come from Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark, while Hungary and Poland have certain reservations.
Michel outlined the points where he felt “a consensus is emerging,” the first being that “the EU needs an exceptional response to this unprecedented crisis, commensurate with the magnitude of the challenge.”
He said “the response should be financed through Commission borrowing on the financial markets and, to allow for that, we need to increase the own resources ceiling.”
The decision on increasing the ceiling must be ratified in all member states.
Michel further said that “our effort should be targeted towards the most affected sectors and geographical parts of Europe,” that “the next MFF should be adjusted to take account of the crisis and should be considered together with the Recovery Plan” and that “the overall package should not just deal with the immediate crisis, but also presents an opportunity to transform and reform our economies and help them embrace a green and digital future.”
Michel also outlined elements “where views still need to converge” such as “the size and duration of the various elements of the Recovery Plan, the best way to allocate the assistance and the issue of loans and grants, questions relating to conditionality… the size and content of the MFF and its financing, including own resources and rebates.”
“Our ultimate goal is to reach a deal as soon as possible. There is still quite some way to go towards an agreement, so we will need to work hard in the coming days and weeks. We will succeed if we enter talks with a sense of responsibility and the willingness to come out of this major challenge united and strong,” he said in the letter./ibna