EU leaders are now into their 4th day of talks about how much money Member States will get to help them over the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, and through the next seven-year community budget.
This is effectively the second ‘unscheduled day’ of negotiations, but underlines the desperation in the air.
No-one wants to walk away from this summit ‘empty-handed’.
Portugal’s PM António Costa has been diplomatic up till now over his take on what is happening, but his challenge to the EU a few months ago (either do what you’re meant to do or it’s over click here) is simmering under the surface.
He told journalists yesterday that it’s evident that some of the people round the table ‘really want to be in a union’ while others ‘simply want to be in a common market’.
The “spirit” (of the union) has “changed a lot” in recent years, and what he sees now are “lots of countries in a suit that is no longer comfortable.
“You know how it is when someone buys a suit and then gains weight. The suit no longer fits, or ends up being out of date”, he said.
Whatever the feeling among political leaders, the truth is southern countries are quite desperate for ‘the bazooka’ of funds that they believe will help them out of the financial meltdown caused by Covid-19 – and the northern frugals are putting every spoke in the wheels that they can find. Southern countries are prepared for compromise – but will it be enough?
These intensely acrimonious talks have been going through the night and are now ‘suspended’ until 3pm this afternoon.