France urges EU to expedite approval of pandemic recovery spending
France has laid out plans for billions in spending from the European Union’s pandemic recovery fund, calling on the EU Commission to fast-track its approval of massive spending plans designed to prop up economies battered by Covid-19 restrictions
At a joint news conference with his German counterpart Olaf Scholz on Tuesday, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned that the European Union’s recovery risked falling behind China and the United States unless funds were released quickly.
“We have lost too much time,” Le Maire said. “China has resumed its growth. The US is booming. The EU must remain in the race.”
Last year, France’s economy shrank by 8.3% amid the virus crisis, the worst slump since World War II, according to national statistics institute INSEE.
EU countries in July agreed on the creation of a coronavirus recovery fund worth 750 billion euros ($906 billion), the equivalent of 5.6 percent of their combined gross domestic products, financed by jointly-underwritten debt.
France and Germany are among a dozen countries scheduled Wednesday to submit to the EU executive body their plans for how they intend to spend their share of the money.
The Commission is to analyse the national spending plans, allowing the European Council to approve them “in July at the latest”, Le Maire said, resulting in payouts by the end of the summer.
Scholz, however, told the news conference he thought the process was “on track” for Germany and France as well as other countries.
“There is this ongoing ratification process and I’m quite confident that we will be successful in the end,” Scholz said.