European leaders optimistic about summit talks over 750 billion euro coronavirus rescue fund

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Southern member states such as Spain, Italy and Portugal support the bailout, which requires the unanimous support of the 27 member states. They accuse the fiscally conservative Nordic countries of seeking to impose strict rescue conditions on them, as they did during the financial crisis.Pedro Sanchez, the Spanish Prime Minister, said that the summit was “historic” and was held during “the most serious pandemic that humanity has known in the last 100 years”.

“We are not in favor of just spending a lot more money in Brussels,” said Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who wants further cuts to the EU budget.

The chances of an agreement at the two-day summit are further reduced by the Visegrad Four group from the Eastern countries. Both Hungary and Poland oppose the idea of ​​tying the EU budget paid to member states to their respect for the rule of law.

Budapest, which has threatened to veto any agreement unless its demands are met, and Warsaw has disagreed with Brussels over their illiberal drift.

Viktor Orban, Hungarian Prime Minister, has been given broad powers to govern by decree following the coronavirus pandemic.

“It cannot be that the rule of law is not respected and respected in Europe,” said Sanna Marin, the Prime Minister of Finland.

European Council President Charles Michel is under pressure to bridge the gap after previous virtual summits have failed to break through.

“This European Council summit is much more than money. It is about people, our European future and our unity. With political courage, I believe we can reach an agreement, “he said.

Unprecedented hygiene precautions were introduced in preparation for the European Council to protect the 27 heads of state and government from infection during their first physical summit in five months.

The officers arrived wearing face masks in accordance with a request from Mr. Michel. Antonio Costa, the Prime Minister of Portugal, brought as a gift a box of personalized masks for each of his fellow leaders. Today is the birthday of Mr. Costa and Ms. Merkel.

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