Best birthday present may elude Merkel at testing EU summit

By Gabriela Baczynska (Reuters) - Back in July 2014, an eager journalist sang 'Happy Birthday' to German Chancellor Angela Merkel as she celebrated her 60th at a summit of European Union leaders.

Reuters July 18, 2020 01:05:47 IST
Best birthday present may elude Merkel at testing EU summit

Best birthday present may elude Merkel at testing EU summit

By Gabriela Baczynska

(Reuters) - Back in July 2014, an eager journalist sang "Happy Birthday" to German Chancellor Angela Merkel as she celebrated her 60th at a summit of European Union leaders.

On Friday, turning 66, she was back in Brussels.

This time, however, the head of Europe's most powerful country sounded downbeat as she arrived for talks with other EU leaders, doubting whether they would be able to overcome deep differences to pass a multi-billion-euro plan to pull economies out of their coronavirus-related slump.

"We are all going into the talks with a lot of vigour, but I must say that the differences are still very, very big and so I can't yet say whether we will get a solution," she said.

French President Emmanuel Macron gave her several bottles of white Burgundy wine, and footage showed Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte taking a picture of her with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, also celebrating his birthday on Friday.

Merkel received presents from several other EU leaders, but it was unclear if they would also give her the satisfaction of a deal on the bloc's next budget, worth 1 trillion euros, and a new economic recovery fund of 750 billion.

The summit has also interfered with the private affairs of another EU leader. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen had had to bring forward her wedding from Friday to Wednesday to be free for the trip to Brussels.

"Going on 'honeymoon' to EU summit in Brussels," she quipped, tweeting a picture of herself on board a plane headed for the talks.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by John Chalmers and Kevin Liffey)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.