June 23, 2020 / 11:07 PM / 20 days ago

France's Macron, Dutch PM Rutte make progress on EU budget: Elysee

French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte react as they sit in a restaurant after a meeting, in The Hague, Netherlands June 23, 2020. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw/Pool

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte were able to move forward during talks to resolve differences over the European Union budget and recovery fund, a French presidential official said on Wednesday.

Macron travelled to the Netherlands on Tuesday evening to try to break Rutte’s resistance to the European Union’s 750 billion euro ($848.18 billion) aid package that the French president wants to see approved at an EU summit in July.

“This exchange made progress,” the official said, adding that the objective remained to achieve a European accord by that date.

Rutte has led a coalition of fiscally conservative northern European countries opposed to the proposed recovery fund, which would see the EU raise debt and transfer cash to the countries hardest hit by the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis.

“We have always been able to find constructive agreements with the Dutch prime minister,” Macron said on Twitter after the meeting. “We have European fibre, we know that we are stronger together. I am confident that we will find common ground on the European recovery plan.”

Rutte, who wants the transfers to take the form of repayable loans rather than grants, hosted Macron in The Hague, followed by a working dinner.

Reporting by Michel Rose; Writing by John Irish; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Peter Cooney

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