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09.34 19 Jul 2020


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Talks at an EU summit in Brussels are continuing for a third day as leaders from across the bloc try to reach a compromise deal on a €750bn COVID-19 recovery fund.

Ireland has already agreed it will pay more into the programme than it gets back, with the Taoiseach saying we have to look to the "big picture".

Speaking yesterday, Micheál Martin said Ireland will be a "net contributor" to the fund and that a European-wide economic recovery will "help to underpin an Ireland-wide recovery".

European President Charles Michel wants to borrow €750bn and divide it among member-states with €500bn of that going as grant aid and €250bn in loans.

However, the same tensions that dominated budget talks five months ago have not gone away.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte laid down a marker on Friday night demanding, along with others in the "frugal" group, a cut of €200bn in the grant programme.

There are now indications that concessions will have to be made in the EU's long-term budget of over €1tn, including a potential €5bn cut to rural development grants that has angered farm groups here already.

Bilateral talks continued throughout the day, but there was still deadlock as they broke up for dinner.

French President Emmanuel Macron even signalled he was ready to give up and go home - ordering aides to put his plane on standby.

Leaders agreed last night only to take an early night and are meeting again to discuss a new compromise draft today.

Reporting by Stephen Bourke 

Main image: A special European Council meeting is being held at the EU headquarters in Brussels. Credit: European Union/Handout via Xinhua

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