The summit had to decide how much money EU institutions should provide over three years to help economies that have been devastated by COVID-19. The arguments that went on for days concerned the quantity and the form of that money, but also whether the package implied too much integration. Times Radio host and former cabinet minister Michael Portillo gave insight into the differences in the bloc since the UK stopped being involved.
Mark Rutte, the Netherlands Prime Minister, was determined going into the summit to make sure that the majority of weight fell towards repayable loans rather than grants, and that the level of repayable loans was kept down.
French President Emmanuel Macron accused Mr Rutte of taking on Brexit Britain’s intransigent role.
He attacked him personally by comparing him to former UK Prime Minister, David Cameron.
Mr Macron considers Mr Cameron to be someone who had taken the wrong decision on Europe and thus caused a European crisis.
Mr Portillo offered his own take: “I can tell you something as someone who has sat around these tables in Europe.
“We, the British, felt for decades that we were made to sit there alone objecting to things like this.
“Whereas, we knew there were several other countries who were pretty much in agreement with us.
“But they could keep their heads down because Britain was going to make the running and take the flack.”
The EU confirmed on July 22 that they had agreed on their 750 billion euro recovery package to help those hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
However the plan was majorly altered due to debt fears from the so-called frugal four (Austria, The Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark), resulting in a cap on their overall contributions to the EU budget.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that the deal was a “good result” for the EU and Austria.
French President Emmanuel Macron hailed the final package as “a historic change of our Europe and eurozone”.
German leader Angela Merkel told reporters she was “very happy” with the deal and felt “relieved”.