'Challenging' summit provides opportunity for EU to send message on crisis - Martin

'Challenging' summit provides opportunity for EU to send message on crisis - Martin
Ireland's Prime Minister Micheal Martin arrives for an EU summit in Brussels, Monday, July 20, 2020. Leaders from 27 European Union nations stretch their meeting into a fourth day on Monday to assess an overall budget and recovery package spread over seven years. (Stephanie Lecocq, Pool Photo via AP)

Taoiseach Mícheál Martin has said the European Union has an opportunity to send a strong message to citizens with its fiscal handling of the Covid-19 crisis.

Mr Martin was speaking to press as he arrived for the fourth day of an ongoing summit of EU leaders to continue negotiations on the union's €750bn emergency recovery fund.

Differences remain among those convened about how the money should be divided up among member states, conditions that may be attached to funding, such as loans as opposed to mooted grants, and the oversight of spending.

Mr Martin reiterated that a successful project, on a continental scale, will be worth the arduous task of negotiations.

"It's been a long summit, and a challenging summit, but the prize is worth negotiating for. 

"That prize is the opportunity for the European Union to work collectively, to reboot and restart the European recovery, and to respond to the scale of the impact of Covid-19."

Mr Martin expressed concern when speaking to press at the weekend over the deadlock regarding the aid package, and attempts by some member states to dilute the level of grants.

“I believe personally, and Ireland believes, that pouring more debt on debt, is not the way out of this, and some member states find that very difficult. And so the grants element of this is very important.

"One has to make an assessment that at some stage in this process that if the package is diluted too much, does it really represent significant response that the Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President [Emmanuel] Macron originally envisaged with their €500bn package and then the commission with the €750bn.”

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