German Chancellor Angela Merkel gestures as she speaks with France's President Emmanuel Macron, Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven during the first face-to-face EU summit since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium July 18, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/Pool
German Chancellor Angela Merkel gestures as she speaks with France's President Emmanuel Macron, Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven during the first face-to-face EU summit since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium July 18, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/Pool

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday all expressed cautious optimism for an agreement as EU leaders enter the fourth day of marathon meetings in Brussels on a post-coronavirus recovery plan.

All three said EU leaders were inching closer to a solution.

Arriving at the European Council, Merkel told journalists that a framework for a possible agreement was worked out after long negotiations overnight. She said this was a step forward and gave hope that an agreement may be reached on Monday.

She argued that the proposal to allocate 500 billion euros as grants within the 750-billion-euro package that she presented together with Macron in May laid the foundation that a considerable proportion of grants could be agreed on by EU leaders. The latest version under discussion is 390 billion euros.

Macron hailed the progress registered so far and said that there is “a spirit of compromise in the air” following “some very tense moments.” The French president said the bones of contention remained the total amount of the recovery plan and the share of subsidies.

“If we are not ready to compromise and to support the European ambition, we take the risk of going back to even harder moments, and, for those who worry about it, in the end it might cost us more.”

Von der Leyen was also cautiously optimistic about a possible positive outcome. Upon her arrival at the European Council, she told journalists that as discussions were entering “a crucial phase,” she had the impression that EU leaders wanted a solution and were showing the clear will to find one.

“I think Europe and its citizens need a solution to overcome this crisis and prepare itself for the future. We are not there yet but things are moving in the right direction,” she said. Enditem

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