by N. Peter Kramer
We are getting closer to the summit that will kick off in Brussels on Friday and could last till Sunday. The tensions are mounting. The gloves are off.
In the beginning of this week, Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel had already a clear message for the so-called frugal member states, Austria, The Netherlands and some Scandinavian countries. They are not very enthusiastic about the plan for an EU Recovery Fund to give away billions, without serious conditions, to member states which already before the Corona crisis showed a bottomless pit and did not really stick to Eurozone’s financial rules. Something that the ‘controller’, the European Commission, turned a blind eye to.
‘They should not count on me as an ally in keeping EU spending low’, Merkel said. She brought that message after talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and his colleague from Spain, Pedro Sanchez. Both men travelled home very happy; their countries are waiting for the free billions…
Sebastian Kurz, Chancellor of the frugal member state Austria, reacted in an interview with the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, that he is only defending positions that were Merkel’s own ‘until a few weeks ago’. Well, he is absolutely right. Merkel changed overnight her mind after talks with French President Macron. And gave up the ‘normal’ German attitude to be frugal and demand recipients to stick strictly to the rules. Greece knows all about that!
Kurz and his colleague of The Netherlands, Mark Rutte, have both argued there is no particular financial need for Italy and Spain to get free EU funds quickly, as the financial markets offer cheap money to both. And, there exist already a well-equipped EU rescue fund: the European Stability Mechanism.
‘Everything is still open and possible’, a wise diplomat told Politico.