EU budget negotiations: ‘we need to keep a cool head’, warns Belgian PM
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EU budget negotiations: ‘we need to keep a cool head’, warns Belgian PM

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“Let’s keep our cool”, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open Vld) told the House of Representatives on Thursday about the ongoing negotiations on the 2021-2027 European budget.

A new meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the European Union is scheduled to take place from 6:00 PM onwards in order to reach a compromise in the face of the blockade by Poland, Hungary and Slovenia.

EU leaders had reached an agreement last week Tuesday, following what the European Parliament called “ten weeks of intense negotiations.”

The deal provided for €15 billion to “reinforce flagship programmes to protect citizens from the Covid-19 pandemic, provide opportunities to the next generation, and preserve European values.”

In a meeting of the ambassadors of Member States on Monday, Poland and Hungary blocked the unanimous green light necessary to validate the agreement.

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The question of linking European aid for economic recovery to respect for the rule of law is at the heart of the deadlock. Slovenia joined the two countries in blocking the deal on Wednesday.

Questioned in the House of Representatives on Thursday, De Croo said that “those who block are playing big because they are putting at stake a package of measures that Europe needs,” adding that Poland and Hungary need those measures as well.

“Basic values are not negotiable,” he said, “but we have to keep a cool head. If there are concerns, we will try to address them. But we will not abandon the basic principles.” De Croo added that he expected a “nuanced compromise.“

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times