July 17, 2020 / 8:28 AM / a month ago

Dutch still demand that EU recovery fund be tied to reforms: PM Rutte

Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte smiles as he arrives for the first face-to-face EU summit since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium July 17, 2020. John Thys/Pool via REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Friday said he was “not optimistic” that agreement would be reached between the EU’s 27 member states over a coronavirus recovery fund.

“I’m not optimistic, but you never know,” he told Dutch broadcaster NOS as he arrived for a special summit of the bloc’s leaders to negotiate a deal on their 2021-27 budget and a new coronavirus recovery fund worth 750 billion euros.

The Netherlands wants countries receiving EU support from the fund to agree to reforms in their labour markets and pension systems among other areas.

It is leading a group of several smaller EU nations that are opposed to providing grants or assistance without strict conditions.

Reporting by Anthony Deutsch and Toby Sterling; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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