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PM Marin welcomes EU deal after marathon talks

EU leaders agree on the terms of a €750bn coronavirus recovery package after one of the longest meetings in the bloc’s history.

Ursula Von Der Leyen ja Charles Michel
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel at a press conference in Brussels on Tuesday. Image: Stephanie Lecocq / AFP

EU leaders have reached an agreement on the terms of a 1.8 trillion euros seven-year budget, including a 750 billion euros coronavirus recovery package, after a fourth night of negotiations.

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin welcomed the successful conclusion of the talks, which will see Finland receive about 3.2 billion euros from the coronavirus recovery fund over the course of the next three years.

"We have definitely achieved what we had been aiming for in terms of financing for agricultural development. I am truly satisfied," Marin said during an early morning press conference. "Domestic food production is a key issue for us, and especially with the coronavirus crisis, we have seen how hugely important it is for us to be self-sufficient."

After the deal had been reached, Marin tweeted that Finland also secured 400 million euros for rural development, including separate additional funding of 100 million euros for the sparsely populated areas of northern and eastern Finland.

In total, Finland’s government estimates it will receive 11.1 billion euros from the budget, and will pay 16.7 billion euros, over the coming seven-year period.

Fraught discussions

The summit began on Friday morning and ended in the early hours of Tuesday, becoming the EU's longest meeting since Nice 2000, which lasted for five days.

Negotiations became particularly fractious over the terms of the coronavirus recovery package, which member states hardest hit by the pandemic had wanted to be mostly in the form of grants, while other members wanted loans.

The "frugal four" group of Sweden, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands -- which Finland is also considered to have joined -- had opposed allowing as much as 500 billion euros to be distributed as grants.

According to a source from the news agency Reuters, French President Emmanuel Macron slapped his fist against a table on Sunday night after becoming increasingly frustrated by the demands of the "frugal" countries. However, Macron said he was much more hopeful of reaching a compromise when he arrived for the reconvened talks yesterday.

This sentiment was echoed by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who has emerged as the leader of the frugal countries, when he said that "the situation looks more hopeful than he could have expected", when he arrived at the venue before last night’s session.

"We are not here to get invitations to each other's birthday parties," Rutte added. "We are here to help our own countries. We are all professionals."

Compromise was reached on a split of 390 billion euros in grants and 360 billion euros in loans.

"EU magic still works"

Summit chair and President of the European Council, Charles Michel, tweeted "Deal" shortly after the 27 leaders had reached their early morning agreement, and later said this "historic moment" shows that the EU’s "magic still works".

Michel added that both the seven-year budget and the coronavirus recovery package were negotiated and agreed based on the EU's climate goals as well as the rule of law, and he praised the EU for sending a "concrete signal that Europe is a force for action".

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the 90-hour meeting was well worth the effort, as the EU has previously been accused of acting "too little and too late" but had "now shown the opposite".

According to von der Leyen, the deal is a big step towards Europe’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis and demonstrated the bloc’s faith in a common future.

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