NATIONAL PLANS FOR 860 BILLION RECOVERY FUNDS SUBMITTED TO BRUSSELS
In all it will be nearly a full year since the package was agreed by Heads of State before the first euros will start to be paid to Member States. A key deadline expired at the end of April, for Member States to submit their plans for financing that are likely to generate some debate on the months ahead before funding will flow.
By the 4th May, the European Commission has received 14 of the 27 plans Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, and Slovenia containing their funding priorities for recovery. Out of the 14 countries that did submit their programmes, 4 have opted for loans available under the recovery fund besides the non-repayable grants, according to the commission.
The loans programme under the recovery fund are seemingly more attractive to Member States than the €240bn available under the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the financial institution set up to help euro area countries in financial distress.
The European Commission now has a maximum of 2 months to recommend to the approve the plans with the European Council. The plans will be assessed on 11 criteria, including an objective to dedicate at least 37 percent of investments to support climate objectives, and 20 percent to the digital transition. If plans do not live up to expectations the European Commission may challenge the proposed plans with Member States.
In addition, one of the compromises secured by the so-called frugal states at the crucial European Council last year when the pact was agreed was for a formal peer review process where Member States check each other’s reform plans before they are signed off. Once agreed, 13 percent of each country's total allocated funds can be disbursed. Member States also have an emergency brake if they believe certain states are not sticking to their plans. Spain is one of the first countries to have started their plans.
Before the European Commission can issue the bonds to raise the additional money, all 27 member states need to ratify a legislation called the own resources decision, which increases the guarantees that back up the new debt. So far, 19 member states have ratified the legislation, but Austria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, and Romania still have to do so.