European Commission approves Coronavirus recovery plans for several Member States

The financing, it is hoped, will unlock millions under the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) to help revive battered economies in Europe.

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

17 Jun 2021

The Commission has, so far, adopted the plans of three countries - Greece, Spain and Portugal - in what it says is “an important step” towards disbursing funds under the RRF.

The financing will support the implementation of investment and reform measures outlined in each Member State's recovery and resilience plan.

A Commission spokesman said, “The RRF will play an important role in enabling them to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Council now has four weeks to adopt the Commission's proposals.

The RRF – part of NextGenerationEU – will provide up to €672.5bn to support investments and reforms across the EU up to 2026. MEPs recently voted to approve the package.

Greece gets €17.8bn in grants and €12.7bn in loans under the RRF; Spain stands to receive some  €69.5bn in grants, while Portugal will receive €13.9bn in grants and €2.7 billion in loans.

On Greece, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, “The plan is ambitious and will help build a better future for the Greek people. It can reshape Greece for decades ahead.”

“The RRF will play an important role in enabling them [Member States] to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic”

European Commission spokesman

On Spain, she said, “This plan will deeply transform Spain’s economy, make it greener, more digital, more resilient. We have endorsed this plan because it is ambitious, far-sighted and will help build a better future for the Spanish people.”

The Spanish plan foresees the creation of up to 800,000 jobs and add an annual average of 2 percentage points to GDP. Other aims include giving 75 percent of Spaniards access to 5G internet coverage by 2025 and putting 250,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2023, leading to 5m in total by 2030.

Turning to Portugal, von der Leyen said, “The plan was designed in Portugal. The reforms and investments contained in this plan will allow Portugal to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis stronger, more resilient, and better prepared for the future. In short, it will help build a better future for the Portuguese people. We will stand by Portugal every step of the way.”

Von der Leyen travelled to Lisbon and Madrid on Wednesday to mark their plans’ approval in a series of visits to EU capitals as Brussels signs off on the RRF proposals.

Italy will be the biggest beneficiary of the Next Generation fund, with €191.5bn of loans and grants expected to be approved by the executive in the coming days.

Reacting to the signoffs, German Greens MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the group, told this site, “In principle, the European recovery fund is a great success.” But he warned, “Now it is a matter of implementation whether the fund’s potential for the green transformation of the European economy is fully exploited.”

But he accused his own country, Germany, of using EU funds to “plug budget holes.”

He said, “The country-specific recommendations of the EU are largely ignored. In this way, the German Government is setting a bad example in Europe. The Next Generation EU Programme will significantly shape European economies going forward. Therefore, all Member States must be held to a high standard to ensure that these funds are put to the best possible use.”

“Crucially, the national recovery plans need to meet the landmark targets of at least 37 percent spending on the Green Deal and 20 percent on digitisation. Sustainable structural reforms in line with the country-specific recommendations are also a key assessment criterion.”

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