Not least, to reach consensus, the E.U. ended up with a smaller post-Brexit European budget, and one that eliminates or reduces spending for some ambitious projects designed to prepare Europe for the future — like in research and climate transition, a fund to promote consensus on carbon goals for 2030 that was slashed by one-third.
Even with the virus, a proposed health fund evaporated entirely. There were also reductions from Commission proposals in other areas of investment, foreign policy and defense.
Ms. von der Leyen called it “a difficult point” and said that such cuts, made in the search for a compromise, are “regrettable, it decreases the innovative part of the budget.’’
“It was all about give and take, so the victims seem to have been the E.U. public goods, which deliver value added to all,’’ said Jean Pisani-Ferry, a French economist, in a Twitter message. “The price of the deal looks high.”
“This is not frugal. This is stupid,’’ said Henrik Enderlein, a German economist who heads of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, in a Twitter response. But he also applauded the larger deal and the recovery fund. “We shouldn’t be frugal in our judgment,’’ he said. “This is historic.”
As Mr. Enderlein noted, the summit must be considered a breakthrough in a time of crisis when the European Union, now without Britain, could not be seen to fail. European fights about money and budgets are never pretty. But Ms. Merkel more than most understands that for all the talk of European solidarity, the European Union only proceeds when its varied leaders can convince their voters that they have fought the good fight for national interests.
As Janis Emmanouilidis, director of Studies at the European Policy Centre, commented:
“The price of no deal would have been much higher — potentially incalculable both economically and politically at the E.U. and national level.’’