Varoufakis issues warning on ‘puny’ EU recovery fund
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The European Commission President said not all of the bloc’s countries had shown “urgency” to ratify the £676 billion spending plan for pandemic-stricken regions and industries. She warned just seven national parliaments had ratified the bailout package, preventing Brussels from dishing out vital funds. Mrs von der Leyen said: “Seven European countries, including Portugal, have already ratified the Own Resources Decision – that is how we will fund NextGenerationEU.
“And I encourage all of you to do the same, as a matter of urgency.
“Because only with a ratified Own Resources Decision can we put fuel in the recovery. And the people of Europe cannot wait. Our collective future is now entirely in your hands – the hands of the parliaments in Europe.”
EU leaders last year granted the Commission unprecedented borrowing, taxation and spending powers to pay for the aid.
The bloc will run up £351 billion in joint debt, to be handed out as grants rather than loans that must be paid back.
In order to claw back the cash, European capitals agreed to allow the Commission to collect special taxes bloc-wide taxes – known as “own resources”.
These are due to include new green levies slapped on transnational companies operating in Europe.
The first tranche of payments is expected to be delayed until at least June.
The recovery fund was only published in the EU’s Official Journal on February 18.
Member states must now publish their spending plans to the Commission for consideration before funds can be unlocked.
The first plans are expected by March, after which eurocrats will have two months to approve them.
EU capitals will then have four extra weeks to scrutinise strategies before giving their blessing to finally distribute the cash.
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Bosses from the European Central Bank and European Stability Mechanism have called for this process to be sped up to aid the bloc’s economic recovery from the chaos sparked by coronavirus pandemic.
The recovery fund cash will be distributed as part of a £1.6 billion total package that includes the bloc’s next seven-year budget.
Under the agreement, many countries will be forced to increase their annual contribution to the EU budget.
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The deal was thrashed out without a single public vote being cast after more than 100 hours of acrimonious negotiations between EU governments last July.
The deep divisions among member states are expected to linger for years to come as future plans are drawn up to start repaying the EU’s collective debt after 2028.
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