To revive recovery, EU approves investment plans for Italy, France and Spain
- EU gives green light to 12 national stimulus packages
- The first installments of the stimulus plan money will be paid in the coming weeks
- Commission may need more time to assess Hungary’s plan
BRUSSELS, July 13 (Reuters) – EU finance ministers on Tuesday adopted the investment plans of 12 member states, including those of Italy, Spain and France, paving the way for the first disbursements of European funds to revive the economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The European Commission estimates that the 800 billion euro ($ 948 billion) stimulus package, financed by unprecedented joint borrowing and disbursed in the form of grants and loans, could increase public investment to 3.5% of the bloc’s gross domestic product next year, the highest in more than a decade. .
Ministers meeting in Brussels approved plans prepared by Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain , according to an EU statement, in what is the first batch of national investment program approvals under the EU stimulus package.
Italy and Spain are among the first recipients in absolute terms of the stimulus funds.
Arriving at the meeting, European Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said the first “pre-financing disbursements” for the 12 countries would be paid in the coming weeks.
Pre-financing amounts to up to 13% of the funds. The money will be released within two months of signing the funding agreements, which is expected later in July.
Further disbursements later in the year or next year will be contingent on national stimulus packages, which are to be in line with targets agreed with the EU on a number of issues, including reforms and investments in a transition green and job creation.
The plans of the other 15 EU countries will be assessed by ministers at a later stage. An extraordinary meeting of finance ministers on July 26 is expected to approve plans for Croatia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Slovenia and possibly Ireland.
European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis told a press conference that the process of evaluating all plans is on track, although not all EU countries have them yet. submitted and that it may take more time to assess Hungary’s plan.
Budapest is at daggers drawn with the EU on a number of issues, including civil and human rights.
EU funds will help fuel the economic rebound after last year’s pandemic-induced crisis, with the Commission estimating growth of 4.8% this year and 4.5% in 2022 across the board. the EU and the euro area, which includes 19 of the 27 EU countries.
Last year, the eurozone economy shrank by 6.5% and the EU’s by 6%, according to the latest figures released by the Commission last week.
The Commission warned, however, that its optimistic forecast was based on the assumption of an easing of restrictive measures in the second half of the year and recognized the downside risks posed mainly by the more contagious Delta variant, which is expected to become dominant in Europe. in August to find out more.
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Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; additional reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Alex Richardson and Nick Macfie
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