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The European Commission President said an agreement over her proposed €750 bailout for pandemic-stricken economies would help the bloc emerge from the crisis. Arriving at the European Council summit, Mrs von der Leyen said: “The risk couldn’t be greater today, but so are the opportunities. “A lot is at stake, if Europe does it right then we can emerge from this crisis more strongly.
“Every necessary part of the negotiations are on the table and an agreement is possible and the people in Europe also expect a solution from us because it is their jobs which are at risk.
“They are still facing the risk of the virus and we will have to learn to live with the virus, the entire world is watching Europe to see if we are able to rise together and to overcome this economic crisis caused by coronavirus.”
Meeting for the first time since the pandemic exploded across the Continent, EU leaders will discuss proposals for a €1.074 trillion seven-year budget and a €750 billion recovery fund for the worst-hit regions and industries.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who worked alongside Angela Merkel to propose the bailout, warned the EU’s future is at stake at the gathering.
He said: “It’s an ambitious moment for Europe, we are living a crisis without precedents in the health, social and economic areas, which requires more solidarity and ambition.
“France and Germany have come up with an agreement. It was the base of the Commission’s proposal for the reactivation plan.
“And the next few hours are decisive to make this ambition possible and get everyone to commit so the plan and the budget can allow the social, economic and environmental reactivation of Europe.
“The European project is at stake here. I am confident, but prudent. We will do everything we can to find an agreement.”
Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, urged her EU colleagues to compromise in order to secure the bloc’s future.
She said: “There have been many preparations and we are in a completely different situation that was the case in February, which is why we are entering these negotiations in good spirits.
“But I have to say that the differences are still very big therefore I can’t say just yet whether we will come to an agreement this time.
“It would be desirable, however, we have to see the reality and it takes great willingness to compromise.”
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