July 20, 2020 / 1:27 PM / 14 days ago

Italy PM says cautiously optimistic of accord at EU summit

FILE PHOTO: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte arrives for the first face-to-face EU summit since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium July 18, 2020. Olivier Matthys/Pool via REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Monday that progress had been made in difficult talks over a coronavirus stimulus plan at an EU summit and he was now cautiously optimistic a deal would be reached.

Negotiations have dragged into a fourth day at one of the European Union’s longest ever meetings, with a small group of so-called “frugal” states fighting to limit the grants to be made available in the recovery plan.

“Last night I would say there was an improvement,” Conte, who is pushing for the scheme to be as generous as possible for struggling countries like his own, told reporters in Brussels.

“We still have to be cautious but I would say I am cautiously optimistic,” he said.

Reporting by Stefano Bernabei, writing by Gavin Jones; editing by Angelo Amante

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