The Franco-German axis wants to continue proving that it pulls the European cart. After months without seeing each other in person, this Monday the French president, Emmanuel Macron, traveled to Germany to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel and stage unity in the middle of the complex negotiation for the approval of the recovery plan. of the European economy, deeply affected by the coronavirus. A gesture that looked directly at the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark, the four self-proclaimed frugal countries and most strongly opposed to the granting of aid in the form of budget transfers to the countries most affected by the pandemic. His main argument for making them change sides: that the beneficiaries of the money will have to make economic reforms in return.
Macron already met last week with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the main bloc in the bloc opposed to European aid against coronavirus, and despite his party’s crackdown on French municipal elections, has continued to focus on European politics. its strong point. It was already the Franco-German front that gave a boost to the recovery plan with a proposal for a half-trillion-euro fund based on European debt and designed so that the most affected countries do not have to borrow even more. That was when Brussels felt strongly to present its proposal a little higher but also including credits and which the four frugals reject. They advocate granting only credit or demanding structural reforms (which in the previous crisis were cut) in exchange for money.
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“Frugals are net beneficiary countries of the functioning of the single market. They participate in a common space of prosperity and exchange. Therefore, they are interested in the European economy working,” Macron said after the meeting. Precisely this is the turn the Merkel government has taken (traditionally closer to the frugal front on such issues). Germany takes over the rotating presidency of the European Council on Wednesday and has the main challenge and goal of pushing forward the recovery plan. Merkel and Macron have reiterated that it is urgent to approve it at the face-to-face summit convened for July 17, and in fact German sources were optimistic about the possibility of achieving it on that date even if it is necessary to negotiate for three days.
But this Monday’s meeting on the outskirts of Berlin was aimed at paving the way for this summit and putting pressure on the frugal. Both Merkel and Macron have insisted that it is important to approve the plan that includes subsidies for those most affected, but have recalled that the proposal involves linking these subsidies to reforms: “This approach is very useful for everyone. Linking the instrument to a reform agenda will allow us to reconcile many interests, “Merkel said. Brussels insists that these reforms will not usher in a new era of austerity through the back door, but the Commission, Merkel and Macron are also aware that this is the only way to convince the Hague-led bloc because by the end of July there is finally a European recovery plan ready to start handing out money in 2021.