EU victory: Why ‘Frugal Four’ will give into Commission pressure to rescue bloc economies

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Richer countries have expressed reluctance at being forced to contribute to a large rescue fund aimed at helping member states recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus. The so-called Frugal Four, namely Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark, have vociferously opposed proposals to create a recovery fund to help European Union economies address the worst consequences of the pandemic. But former Finnish Prime Minister Alex Stubb insisted Scandinavia leaders are due to capitulate soon because of the risks the deep link between their internal markets and the single market share.

Speaking to Euronews, Mr Stubb said: “This should be viewed from a macroeconomic and financial perspective.

“Both in Denmark and Sweden, both countries understand that the internal market and their economies are intimately tied with what is going on in Europe.

“Sweden took a different line in fighting the COVID virus but economically it’s pretty much in the same boat.

“I understand where they are coming from but, at the end of the day, we are tied to the hip.

“What happens in Italy, what happens in Spain, will have reflection and repercussions in both Denmark and Sweden. I do think at the end of the day they will come on board.”

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President Ursula von der Leyen this week unveiled the European Commission’s plan to take on more taxation powers in a bid to raise €750billion for the recovery fund.

Mrs von der Leyen said the fund would be made available to all member states, with those worst-affected by the virus due to benefit from a bigger share.

Mr Stubb insisted the opposition of the Frugal Four to the rescue operation falls in line with traditional EU mechanism patterns, insisting the countries will soon fall in line with fellow member states.

The former Finnish leader continued: “They will come around because, usually, the way the European Union works is that you have three phases.

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“Phase number one is a crisis, phase number two is chaos, and phase number three is the suboptimal solution.

“So what you hear at the beginning is a very defensive stance from the frugal four, which is understandable.

“Then they will tweak and change the proposal a little bit and then everyone can come out having a good negotiation deal.”

Germany also opposed proposals for a joint monetary effort but German Chancellor Angela Merkel relaxed her red lines and joined forces with French President Emmanuel Macron to set out a €500 billion recovery fund to protect EU economies. 


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Manfred Weber, the leader of the larger parliamentary party in the European Parliament, pleaded with the Frugal Four to reconsider their position soon as he warned attempts to salvage the economy would collapse without their help.

The European People’s Party boss told colleagues in the European Parliament on Wednesday: “To the Frugal Four, let me be clear with these main arguments.

“First of all, our companies cannot be successful without a successful single market so it’s in your interest to make the whole EU successful.

“Secondly, we see a redistribution of the global economic power going.

“I don’t want to see China being a winner and Europe being a loser.”

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