PM wants ‘quick agreement’ at EU summit on ‘excellent’ budget proposal

  • Lusa
  • 17 July 2020

António Costa reiterated on Friday in Brussels his wish for a "quick agreement" at a European Union summit on relaunching the economy.

Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, reiterated on Friday in Brussels his wish for a “quick agreement” at a European Union summit on relaunching the economy, hoping that the meeting will not waste time, not least because the proposal on the table is “excellent”.

“We have an excellent proposal from the [European] Commission,” he said, referring to the EU executive. “The president of the [European] Council has done a great job in accommodating the different criticisms from the different member states. Now it is up to the Council not to delay, not to waste time, and to take the decisions that are needed quickly to respond to what is urgency for the economy, for employment, for Europe’s economic recovery.”

Costa spoke on his arrival at the European Council headquarters in the Belgian capital for the first face-to-face summit of leaders since the Covid-19 pandemic hit Europe.

With journalists still absent as they arrive at the Council, due to precautionary measures against Covid-19, the heads of state and government of the EU’s 27 member states gave short statements recorded by cameras set up by the institution itself, in some cases in their own languages and in English, as was the case with Costa.

On Thursday evening, on his arrival in Brussels, Costa had said that he hoped that the two-day summit that started on Friday would be conclusive, saying that for his part he is ready to accept the proposal currently on the table.

He argued that the plan tabled by the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, “is a very balanced proposal which, in addition to what had already been proposed by the Commission, seeks to meet the resistance that some had put forward,” and said that he therefore hoped “that the necessary consensus can be established over the weekend so that it can be approved” by the leaders.

“As far as Portugal is concerned, the two questions that were still open – one still relating to a reduction in funding for the second pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy and the other to matching funds for the autonomous regions – have now been resolved in the afternoon,” he said. “So, for our part, we are in a position to enter the Council and approve President Charles Michel’s proposal.”

Costa specified that within the funding earmarked for Portugal “there was a disagreement over the rural development component” and also “a specific problem with the rate of funding for the autonomous regions and the specific problem of the autonomous regions,” but added that in talks held during the afternoon with Michel, these problems were “overcome”.

At the summit in Brussels, EU leaders are to try to reach a compromise on the EU budget for 2021-2027 and a Recovery Fund to overcome the socio-economic crisis caused by the pandemic. Michel’s latest proposal includes a multiannual financial framework of 1.07 trillion euros and a recovery fund of 750 billion euros, of which 500 billion euros is to take the form of grants, as proposed by the European Commission.