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The German Chancellor suggested member states are still hugely divided in their quest to reach an agreement over the bloc’s next long-term budget and coronavirus recovery fund. Ahead of the crunch European Council summit, Mrs Merkel said: “There have been many preparations and we are in a completely different situation that was the case in February, which is why we are entering these negotiations in good spirits. “But I have to say that the differences are still very big therefore I can’t say just yet whether we will come to an agreement this time.
“It would be desirable, however, we have to see the reality and it takes great willingness to compromise.”
Meeting for the first time since the pandemic exploded across the Continent, EU leaders will discuss proposals for a €1.074 trillion seven-year budget and a €750 billion recovery fund for the worst-hit regions and industries.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who worked alongside Mrs Merkel to propose the bailout, warned the EU’s future is at stake at the gathering.
He said: “It’s an ambitious moment for Europe, we are living a crisis without precedents in the health, social and economic areas, which requires more solidarity and ambition.
“France and Germany have come up with an agreement. It was the base of the Commission’s proposal for the reactivation plan.
“And the next few hours are decisive to make this ambition possible and get everyone to commit so the plan and the budget can allow the social, economic and environmental reactivation of Europe.
“The European project is at stake here. I am confident, but prudent. We will do everything we can to find an agreement.”
More to follow…
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