“The bridges we still have to build are big”

European Council on reconstruction plan “The bridges we still have to build are big”

The heads of state and government of the EU have exchanged views about the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and the desired reconstruction plan for Europe in a video conference. Federal Chancellor Merkel announced that the talks are to continue in mid-July.

Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at a press conference following the European Council.

Federal Chancellor Merkel at a press conference following the European Council.

Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler

We held an objective and constructive discussion about the reconstruction fund, explained Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, following the European Council’s video conference. As expected, there is no result yet. “The bridges we still have to build are big,” explained the Chancellor. 

Many questions yet to be answered

Germany is satisfied with the basic architecture of the reconstruction fund, affirmed Merkel. At the same time, however, a whole series of questions is yet to be answered. For example, the database to which payments will be referenced must be clarified in detail, she added. The duration of the programme and the date of repayment must be scrutinised, too.

Rapid assistance is required

The Federal Chancellor affirmed her support for linking the reconstruction fund to the European semester. At the same time, she urged that a rapid flow of funds be facilitated. In order for this to happen, she said, bureaucratic rules and the subject of the duration of the approval process must be reviewed again. The question of competition law must also be discussed, she added. 

The EU’s greatest challenge

We are facing “the greatest economic challenge in the history of the European Union,” explained Merkel. “The measures we take must be correspondingly great, too. This includes ensuring that these measures are not something that might happen at some point, but something that must happen in a way that generates confidence in the economic reconstruction of Europe after this pandemic.” Germany is committed to securing a rapid agreement, promised the Chancellor. 

EU Council President Charles Michel plans to host another meeting in Brussels in mid-July. New proposals are to be prepared up until then.

Other issues

The heads of state and government also discussed Great Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. They agreed that negotiations must be speeded up. An agreement must be on the table in the autumn so that it can be ratified by both sides by the end of the year.

The Minsk Agreement was also discussed. The heads of state and government agreed to extend the EU’s economic sanctions against Russia for a further six months due to the ongoing Ukraine conflict.