Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said today that European Council President Charles Michel’s new proposal for the EU’s long-term budget is an improvement on an earlier blueprint.
“It looks much better now than it did in February,” Rutte said during his weekly press briefing in The Hague.
Michel today presented a compromise proposal aimed at reaching agreement among EU leaders on a coronavirus recovery fund and the bloc’s 2021-2027 budget.
The Netherlands, together with Denmark, Sweden and Austria, has led opposition to using borrowed recovery funds to give grants to member countries. The so-called Frugal Four have also called for recovery funding to be linked to structural reforms, and pushed for discounts on their national contributions to the EU’s coffers.
Rutte declined to make further remarks on the new proposal, saying he had promised Michel at a meeting in The Hague on Monday that he would not comment publicly on it.
However, in a sign he could be ready for serious negotiations, Rutte said he would be “leaving his Chopin biography at home” when EU leaders meet for a summit beginning on July 17 in Brussels. At the last summit on the budget in February, Rutte brought along a book about the Polish composer to show he was not expecting to do much negotiating.
When asked how he will handle pressure from other EU leaders at the summit, Rutte answered that he’s not “made of marzipan, I can handle it.”
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