European Union leaders meet for 'very difficult negotiations' says Merkel

European Union leaders discuss recovery fund for 'biggest economic depression' since WWII. 'Very, very difficult negotiations,' Merkel says.

Y. Rabinovitz ,

Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels for the first time in person since the COVID-19 crisis began, The Guardian reports, with muted expectations as to whether a deal will be clinched.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stressed the importance of the occasion, noting, "We're faced with the biggest economic depression since the Second World War."

Under discussion are an unprecedented $2.1 trillion budget and recovery fund as well as a seven-year budget plan costing €1.07 trillion ($1.22 trillion). The countries are divided on the issue of how much of the fund will be apportioned in grants, and how much in loans.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Reuters that, "The differences are still very, very big and so I can’t predict whether we will achieve a result this time," adding that she expects, "very, very difficult negotiations."

According to the BBC, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the summit would prove to be a "moment of truth" for the bloc. The leaders are expected to meet both Friday and Saturday, but it is likely that more time will be needed in order to hammer out a deal - in the event that they are successful in doing so.