Earlier this week European Union leaders clinched a historic deal on a massive stimulus plan for their coronavirus-throttled economies after reaching a compromise. The agreement paves the way for the European Commission, the EU’s executive, to raise billions of euros on capital markets on behalf of all 27 states, an unprecedented act of solidarity in almost seven decades of European integration.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who spearheaded a push for the deal with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, hailed it as truly historic.
But Adrien Quatennens, deputy leader of La France Insoumise, France’s democratic socialist, left-wing populist political party in opposition to Mr Macron said that it was “a bitter failure” for him.
Speaking on LVI France, the politician said: “It is no longer compromise, but compromising behaviour.
“It is a bitter failure for Emmanuel Macron and a new demonstration that the European Union is a space of competition and not a space of cooperation between peoples.
“There is no European solidarity.”
He claimed that the compromise would be at a “higher cost for France”.
Leaders hope the 750 billion euro (£681 billion) recovery fund and its related £1 billion 2021-2027 budget will help repair the continent’s deepest recession since World War Two after the coronavirus outbreak shut down economies.
While strong in symbolism, the deal came at the cost of cuts to proposed investment in climate-friendly funds and did not set conditions for disbursements to countries, such as Hungary and Poland, seen as breaching democratic values.
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The five-day summit, however, exposed fault lines across the bloc that are likely to hinder future decision-making on money as richer northern countries resisted helping out the poorer south.
The Netherlands led a group of so-called frugal states with Austria, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, insisting that aid to Italy, Spain and other Mediterranean countries that took the brunt of the pandemic should be mainly in loans, not in non-repayable grants.
Under the compromise, the Commission will borrow £664 billion pounds using its triple-A debt rating, disbursing £354 billion in grants, less than the originally targeted £450 billion and £327 billion in cheap loans.
The frugals also secured larger rebates from the next EU budget, a payback mechanism first won by Britain in the 1980s and which France had hoped to phase out after Brexit.
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The recovery plan now faces a potentially difficult passage through the European Parliament and it must be ratified by all EU states.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega