EU Chief To Launch Recovery Fund In Lisbon, Madrid
Muhammad Irfan 1 month ago Wed 16th June 2021 | 10:20 AM
Lisbon, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 16th Jun, 2021 ) :European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen visits Lisbon and Madrid Wednesday where she will begin approving recovery plans submitted by nations seeking funding from the bloc's coronavirus recovery fund.
"This is a historic achievement," von der Leyen told the European Parliament last week in announcing the imminent activation of the landmark 750-billion-euro ($910-billion) recovery plan which was drawn up nearly a year ago.
Portugal, which currently holds the EU's six-month rotating presidency, has made the rapid adoption of these recovery plans a priority following their recommendation by the Commission.
Spain is also a significant choice in that it will be the second-largest beneficiary of the rescue fund after Italy, with Madrid set to receive 140 billion Euros ($170 billion), half of which will take the form of direct grants and loans.
"Two southern European countries that previously did not feel supported within Europe have now benefitted from the extraordinary support and generosity of their northern partners," said Toni Roldan, head of research at the Esade Centre for Economic Policy (EsadeEcPol) in Madrid.
With both countries hugely dependent on tourism, their economies have been significantly affected.
Since the eurozone debt crisis which began in 2011, Lisbon and Madrid have often been in the firing line with Europe's more "frugal" members frustrated at having to fork out money to subsidise spending in what they have seen as the somewhat less virtuous south.
Although some of the conditions attached to the stimulus packages remain vague, Spain and Portugal could have shown "greater reformist ambition" in using the money, particularly in the area of education, Roldan told AFP.
"I understand it's difficult for the Commission to demand deep reforms in this complicated environment with the rise of populism and all the post-pandemic suffering, but at the same time, it's the best moment." In Lisbon, von der Leyen will head to a science exhibition centre to meet Costa, whose country is to receive 16 billion euros in funding.
Since the end of April, 23 governments have submitted investment and reform plans to Brussels for approval. The Commission has two months from the date of submission to give its opinion after which the European Council must give its approval within a month.