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‘Money will start flowing’ for EU’s recovery from the pandemic

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The EU’s economic recovery from the pandemic is set to ramp up and the “money will start flowing in the coming weeks”, the head of the European Commission has said.

Ursula von der Leyen said the bloc of 27 countries’ recovery plan was made possible by a refusal to “tear ourselves apart” and by fighting the pandemic as a united front.

Ms von der Leyen described the €750 billion ($913.11bn) Next Generation EU initiative as Europe’s biggest recovery effort since the post-Second World War Marshall Plan.

The centrepiece is the €672.50bn in loans and grants via the Recovery and Resilience Facility, with each member state asked to submit a plan of intended reforms.

The Commission wants to use the pandemic as an opportunity to transform the bloc’s future, with 37 per cent of recovery plan funds earmarked for climate-friendly objectives. Another 20 per cent should be devoted to the digital transition, it said.

It is expected that from next week, the Commission will begin approving national recovery plans with 23 member states having submitted proposals.

“These plans send a very clear message. Europeans are ready for a new start,” Ms von der Leyen told the European Parliament. “Our citizens are ready to embrace a more sustainable, a more digital and a more resilient future.”

Ms von der Leyen said the EU plan sought to make it a “European” recovery.

“Next Generation EU can deliver so much more than 27 individual recovery plans ever could and this will further unite our union. Europeans are in this crisis together, we will come out of it together and we will come out stronger than ever before.

“Next Generation EU has shown how much we can achieve when we all work together. So, with more confidence than ever, I say ‘long live Europe’.”

The plan was devised in July 2020 but needed the support of all member states before the Commission could borrow the billions of euros required to kick-start the recovery.

The EU’s statistical office on Tuesday reported that gross domestic product in the 19 eurozone countries decreased by 0.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the previous three months.



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