- Title: Luxembourg leader brings an extra shirt to EU summit in hope of a deal
- Date: 16th July 2020
- Summary: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (JULY 16, 2020) (REUTERS) PRIME MINISTER OF LUXEMBOURG, XAVIER BETTEL, ENTERING ROOM AND GREETING JOURNALIST PICTURE OF GRAND DUKE HENRI OF LUXEMBOURG / BETTEL TALKING BETTEL SAYING THAT HE BROUGHT AN EXTRA SHIRT BETTEL TALKING (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRIME MINISTER OF LUXEMBOURG, XAVIER BETTEL, SAYING: "I really hope there is a good chance (to find a deal on the EU budget and recovery fund). When we come to Brussels, homeworks will have been done before. It's not like we come here and start from scratch. Fact is that there are some critical points and we need to be able to discuss them. We see that it was very difficult through video conference to move on and to get agreements, so I think that the physical presence is important to make breaks, to make bilaterals, to make groups and to have a dynamic of discussions to find a compromise afterwards." BETTEL TALKING (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRIME MINISTER OF LUXEMBOURG, XAVIER BETTEL, SAYING: "I don't want to be misunderstood, but the solidarity is also in the interest of all of us. If Italy or Spain collapses, because they have and economic crisis and afterwards a social crisis, it's not in the interest of all the other countries. So the solidarity is also in our interest. To be honest, it's solidarity also in our interest. We should not forget that. This European project is to be able to give today and get maybe something bigger tomorrow." BETTEL SPEAKING (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRIME MINISTER OF LUXEMBOURG, XAVIER BETTEL, SAYING: "If we accept this (having LGBT-free zones in Poland), tomorrow it will be religions and we should not forget that yesterday in our history, it was religion, it was gypsies, it was disabled, it was gay persons, it was left wing politicians. We should never forget, we should never forget. I don't want to compare, but if we accept that beginning of blaming others for being different... I think that Europe's strength is that we are different." INTERVIEW ENDING
- Embargoed: 30th July 2020 21:22
- Keywords: EU budget European Council European summit LGBT Poland Xavier Bettel recovery fund
- Location: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- City: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: European Union,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA001CN290EF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said on Thursday (July 16) that he had brought an extra shirt to Brussels for a European Union summit just in case an extra day is needed to clinch a deal on a multi-billion-euro recovery fund for the bloc's economies.
Xavier Bettel said it was critical for the EU's 27 member states to demonstrate solidarity when they gather for their two-day meeting on Friday because if one country collapses due to the damage from the coronavirus crisis it will affect them all.
The EU leaders will meet face-to-face for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic triggered lockdowns across Europe and plunged the continent into its deepest-ever recession.
Along with negotiations over the EU's next seven-year budget, they will also negotiate over a recovery fund of grants and loans worth 750 billion euros that is designed primarily to prop up southern countries hardest hit by the crisis.
"I really hope that there is a good chance," Bettel said, adding that he hoped that leaders meeting in person rather than by video-conferences will help them overcome differences that have so far stood in the way of an agreement.
The Netherlands leads a group of wealthy northern states that favour loans over grants and wants to be able to veto applications for aid.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has also threatened to block an agreement over a mechanism to freeze funds for states undercutting the rule of law.
Bettel said that if the leaders fail to reach an accord it would be wrong to blame the Netherlands, and while rule of law principles must be discussed at the summit, countries that need recovery funds should not be held hostage to the issue.
Bettel said he would be delighted if the leaders could agree on the fund as a birthday present for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will turn 66 on Friday.
However, he said was doubtful an accord could come so quickly and - recalling how at a previous summit that went on longer than planned he had to wash a shirt in his bathroom - he said he had brought clothes for three days, just in case.
(Production: Bart Biesemans)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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