Elbow bumps and bows: masked EU leaders start physically distanced summit
The leaders of EU27 countries wore face masks as they greeted each other with elbow bumps, nods, bows and some variations at a summit to thrash out a deal on a multibillion coronavirus recovery fund for the bloc's economies.
There were birthday gifts for the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who turned 66, and the Portuguese prime minister, António Costa, who turned 59
EU leaders discuss compromise on Covid recovery dealAnd they're off. EU leaders are meeting in Brussels for a second day in an attempt to agree to a multi-billion euro recovery package.
The leaders of (L-R) Germany, France, Sweden and Finland were locked in conversation as the summit resumed
The initial plan, on top of a 7-year EU budget of over €1 trillion, was to have a recovery fund of €750bn (£670bn) made up of grants and loans. And €500bn of it would be made up of financial grants. But a small group of so-called "frugal" states led by the Netherlands are unhappy with the scale of the grants and want them linked to major reforms.
So, the head of the European Council, Charles Michel - apparently backed by France and Germany - has come up with a compromise to lower the amount handed out in grants and subsidies from €500bn to €450bn, reports say. There are other sweeteners for the frugal states, such as increased rebates from the money they pay into the main budget, Reuters reports.