European Union leaders failed to agree on a massive stimulus fund to revive their coronavirus-hammered economies on Saturday after two days of fraught negotiations but extended their summit for another day to try and overcome their differences.
After the 27 leaders scurried back to their hotels after a late, inconclusive dinner, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron stayed behind in the EU’s headquarters in Brussels to haggle with the Dutch-led camp of thrifty countries demanding cuts to the 1.8-trillion-euro package.
“The negotiations were heated,” said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy, one of the EU countries most affected by the coronavirus crisis that are seeking generous aid from the bloc. “Europe is under the blackmail of the ‘frugals’.”
“We have to do all what is possible to reach a deal tomorrow. Further delays are not useful to anybody.”
Summit chairman Charles Michel was due to hand new proposals before the 27 reconvene at noon (1000 GMT) on Sunday.
With the pandemic dealing Europe its worst economic shock since World War Two, leaders first locked horns on Friday over a proposed 750 billion euro ($856 billion) recovery fund and a 2021-27 EU budget of more than 1 trillion euros.