France urges EU to approve crisis spending plans soon

"We have lost too much time," said French economy minister Bruno Le Maire said. "China has resumed its growth. The US is booming. The EU must remain in the race." [EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON]

France on Tuesday (27 April) called on the EU Commission to expedite its approval of massive spending plans designed to prop up the bloc’s economies hobbled by COVID-19 restrictions.

At a joint news conference with his German counterpart Olaf Scholz, 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.”

France and Germany unveil green recovery plans

French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire and German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz unveiled their national recovery and resilience plan at a joint press conference Tuesday (27 April) ahead of the indicative 30 April deadline set by the European Commission.

EU countries in July agreed on the creation of a coronavirus recovery fund worth €750 billion, the equivalent of 5.6% 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.

Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen meanwhile said that the different recovery plans would be “translated into legal texts” in the coming weeks.

Portugal wants €750 billion EU bazooka fund available before August

The Portuguese EU Council presidency is working so that the process of releasing the €750 trillion from the EU’s post-pandemic Recovery Fund can be shortened by at least one month.

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