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EU summit extends into Sunday after two-day intense debates over recovery plan

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-07-19 06:57
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A European Union flag flutters outside the European Commission headquarters, ahead of an EU leaders summit at the European Council headquarters, in Brussels, Belgium, on July 16, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

BRUSSELS -- A special summit grouping heads of state and government of the European Union (EU) member states on Saturday failed to reach consensus on the next seven-year budget and an ambitious recovery plan designed to lift the bloc out of the crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The leaders will reconvene on Sunday noon, said a spokesman for the European Council President Charles Michel.

The extension by an extra day was proposed by Michel, who has hosted the challenging roundtable and held bilateral meetings with his counterparts from the member states in the first two days, trying to bridge their differences.

The summit, the first face-to-face one since the outbreak of the pandemic, came at a critical moment as the 27-member bloc is seeking a consensus on a 750 billion-euro recovery plan embedded in an enhanced 2021-2027 EU budget of 1.074 trillion euros.

Part of the debt-financed fund will be paid as non-repayable grants to crisis-hit countries and the rest as loans. Countries particularly hard hit by the pandemic, such as Italy and Spain, would benefit most from the recovery plan.

However, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Austria, nicknamed the Frugal Four, oppose the non-repayable grants, and call for linking aid to reform plans.

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