No "weak compromises", Dutch PM says ahead of EU summit on coronavirus aid

The European Union leaders are gathering in Brussels this weekend to discuss a 750 billion euros recovery fund for economies hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The Netherlands is only willing to give subsidies to countries like Italy and Spain if they make firm commitments to reform their economies. Prime Minister Mark Rutte is not optimistic that any decisions will be made this weekend, saying that "weak compromises" doesn't help anyone, NOS reports.

"I estimate the chances of reaching an agreement this weekend at less than 50 percent," Rutte said ahead of the summit. "Content is ultimately more important than speed. A weak compromise does not move Europe forward."

The Netherlands, along with Austria, Denmark and Sweden, want the recovery fund to be used to implement thorough reforms on struggling economies. Rutte, who has clashed often with Italy regarding his tough stance on coronavirus aid over the past months, is meeting with the French president and the other "frugal" countries before the summit starts. 

"I will only agree to subsidies if the reforms are nailed down," the Dutch Prime Minister said. According to Rutte, other leaders are starting to agree with them, but he is "not optimistic" that agreements will be reached this weekend. 

He stressed that he does want to get through this and reach an agreement. "It is an unstable world and in that world we need a stable Europe," he said. He added that it is in the Netherlands' interest to get the internal market up and running again quickly.

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