Sitting once again on the Terrace Where It Happened, Charles Michel confessed he had no Plan B if leaders had failed to reach a budget deal, according to POLITICO,
It transpires, that however, he did have a nuclear option if Emmanuel Macron tried to leave Brussels without an agreement, as the French president had threatened when talks deadlocked last Saturday night, ordering staff to get his plane ready.
“I knew that it was not possible to decide on such a difficult topic in one day or two days,” the European Council president said. So the former Belgian premier told leaders he would keep them in Brussels as long as necessary.
How much the deal can be credited to Michel’s negotiating skills is open to debate. There was plenty of grumbling about his chairmanship as the talks, originally scheduled to last just two days, dragged on through the weekend.
Michel presided over a landmark agreement that will create a €750 billion coronavirus crisis recovery fund, for which the bloc will take on an unprecedented amount of joint debt — representing a fundamentally deeper fiscal integration than ever before.
Looking relaxed if a bit drained, in a dark sport coat but no tie, Michel described in an interview with POLITICO how he managed the 27 heads of state and government whose wishes he needed to anticipate, and whose demands he needed to meet in order to secure a unanimous agreement.