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Merkel, Macron push for EU deal on coronavirus recovery fund at July’s summit

The leaders of Europe’s two biggest economies, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are pushing EU countries to reach a deal on the coronavirus recovery fund at July’s summit.

Merkel’s meeting with Macron in Meseberg Castle on Monday, was the first time the two leaders held non-virtual talks since the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus. It came ahead of an in-person summit of heads of state and government across the EU, set for July 17 and 18, and of Germany’s assumption of the rotating EU Council Presidency.

The heads of France and Germany urged EU countries, and in particular the so-called “frugal states” – Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden -, to reach an agreement on the proposed €750 bn recovery fund, with Macron saying it would “not be in their interest,” to wreck the chance of salvaging European economies hit by the pandemic.

Merkel expressed her hopes that negotiations would eventually lead to “a strong instrument,” to respond to the unprecedented economic challenged posed by the Coronavirus crisis, highlighting that the two countries will work together “to make Europe fit for tackling this crisis”.

Over the weekend, the head of EU’s Executive arm, Ursula von der Leyen also urged EU leaders to agree on the coronavirus recovery package “by summer break,” highlighting that “Europe urgently needs this reconstruction plan”.

In an interview given to German newspaper Handelsblatt on Sunday, the Commission President noted that July’s summit might not be the last one concerning the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027 and the Next Generation EU package, but the EU has to see “whether such an agreement will be successful on the first try”.

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Last week, the German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire pressed for a quick agreement among EU leaders on the size and payout details of the bloc’s recovery fund.