The European Union (EU) Heads of State and Government will convene in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to clear the 1.8-trillion-euro (2.2-trillion-dollar) recovery and budget package, which Hungary and Poland have been blocking over a separate rule of law tool.
The event, which is likely going to be the last face-to-face meeting of the year, will also seek to tackle internal disagreements and put a united front toward external challenges.
While it looked on Wednesday like they were dropping their resistance to a rule of law mechanism they strongly oppose, the issue is politically sensitive and not an easy pass.
Sanctions against Turkey over controversial Mediterranean seismic exploration are also expected to be discussed.
European Council President, Charles Michel, expressed optimism ahead of the talks.
“I am confident that we can find an agreement on a common package to allow for the swift implementation of both the Multiannual Financial Framework and the recovery fund,’’ he wrote in an invitation letter to the leaders on Wednesday.
Other senior EU diplomats also expressed cautious hope that the package could be approved on Thursday or Friday.
The passing of the budget is essentially a pre-condition for making progress on another major issue that of setting emissions reduction targets to 55 per cent by 2030.
Some countries resist this target as they claim it is unobtainable for them, but talks behind closed doors seem to have borne fruit over the last weeks, several EU diplomats said on Wednesday that an agreement might be possible.
Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, will be represented by Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, with local media reporting the switch is due to Plenkovic showing symptoms associated with COVID-19. (dpa/NAN)