Dutch PM Rutte pessimistic about chances of deal on EU recovery fund

FILE PHOTO: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks to reporters in Berlin, Germany, July 9, 2020. Bernd von Jutrczenka/Pool via Reuters

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday he was pessimistic about the chances of a deal being reached on the proposed European Recovery Fund at a EU summit set to start this Friday.

“The responses behind the scenes on our proposals do not make me hopeful about the chances to reach a deal,” Rutte said in a debate in the Dutch parliament.

Rutte held a series of one-on-one discussions in recent days with EU leaders who have been trying to persuade the Dutch to drop their opposition to proposals for a 750 billion euro ($850 billion) fund supported by France and Germany.

But Rutte said he remained opposed to the idea of making a large part of the fund available in the form of grants, unless countries would find a way to ensure that economic reforms promised in return for the money would actually be pushed through.

“Subsidies should come with very strict conditions, that is the only way”, Rutte said.

“I would not be able to explain how we can give grants without promises of serious reforms and ways to make sure they actually happen. But I don’t feel that this idea will be accepted.”

Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Alex Richardson and Angus MacSwan