EU crumbles: France attacks Brussels’ recovery funds delay – ‘Not a single penny yet!’

EU recovery fund: Expert on 'complaint' from Germany's AFD

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France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire was the latest to lambast the Commission’s delays in dishing out funds promised to member states under the Recovery Fund strategy. The French politician said he was “deeply concerned” by the delays, blasting the EU executive for falling short of expectations.

He told Bloomberg: “We [France] are on the right track.

“But the point which is not on the right track is the European recovery plan.

“We have not seen one single penny among the €750 billion that have been decided last summer, in 2020.”

He added: “I’m deeply concerned by the delay in the implementation of the European recovery plan.

“That’s the key point.”

Mr Le Maire noted that France had “already disbursed €29 billion” as part of its national recovery programme.

Mr Le Maire stressed the funds are paramount to “face the challenges of China and the United States” and “to remain in the technological race”.

The Commission is insisting that the Recover and Resilience Facility is on schedule, as it awaits the remaining member states yet to submit their national plans on how they will spend the money.

EU leaders must submit their plans by April 30 in order to claim the desperately needed funds.

Austria, Poland, Hungary and the Netherlands are yet to agree on ratification of the fund’s implementing legislation in their respective national parliaments.

A Commission spokesperson said on Wednesday: “We have been working intensively with Member States on the preparation of their recovery and resilience plans for a number of months now.”

The ratification of the EU’s flagship initiative was blocked by the German constitutional court at the end of March.

The Karlsruhe-based constitutional court pressed pause of the approval process following an appeal against the legislation by a group of eurosceptics.

Under the scheme for the €750 billion bailout, Brussels will be handed unprecedented borrowing and taxation powers in order to hand out cash to pandemic-stricken economies and regions.

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Before the Recovery Fund can enter into force, each of the EU’s national parliaments must first ratify the so-called “own resources” decision.

The Bundestag voted, with 478 of 645 MPs supporting the arrangements, to approve the multi-billion euro plan, of which Germany is a the main contributor.

The law, backed by politicians from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition, was also passed by the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament.

It was due to be signed into law by German president Frank Walter Steinmeier, but the German constitutional court moved to pause the process.

The court said it must first rule on a motion for an interim injunction on the law to approve the EU’s plan.

A eurosceptic group, called the Citizen’s Will Alliance, brought the motion in an attempt to block its ratification.

The group argues the EU’s treaties do not allow the bloc to take on joint debt.

On its website, it said: “That didn’t prevent the European Council from passing an ‘own resources’ resolution which allows the EU to raise debt on capital markets for the first time.”

Bernd Lücke, a founding member of the eurosceptic Alternative for Germany, said he was “relieved” by the court’s ruling.

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