Finance ministers of Germany, France, Italy, and Spain urged member states on Wednesday (28 April) to submit their recovery plans and pressed the European Commission to speed up the assessment of the investment and reform proposals.
Ministers Olaf Scholz (Germany), Bruno Le Maire (France), Daniele Franco (Italy) and Nadia Calviño (Spain) said in a joint declaration on Wednesday that the four largest European economies will submit their recovery plans this week.
By Thursday evening, the Commission confirmed the submission of the Portuguese, Greek, and German final drafts. The EU executive expected to receive a dozen of plans by midnight on Friday.
Scholz and Le Maire called on the rest of the 27 to send their proposals and ratify “as soon as possible” the Own Resources Decision, needed to be able to borrow the €800 billion to finance the recovery fund.
“Time is of the essence, as the other colleagues have already said, and swift approval of the plans will be key to ensure that our actions at national level continue to interact and reinforce those of our neighbours,” said Spain’s Calviño.
Le Maire called on the Commission to assess the plans “without delay”, so they can be approved by the Council in July “at the latest”.
“This will allow the money to flow before the end of summer,” the French finance minister said.
National diplomats had questioned why the Commission needed two months to validate the plans, since the institution has been discussing the content with some countries since last October.
The Commission, however, has been saying for days that it cannot speed up the approval of the national packages to unblock billions of euros to finance the European recovery.
The Commission’s chief spokesperson, Eric Mamer, said on Wednesday this is a “complex process”, given the enormous volume of information that capitals are sending, the work required to translate the proposals into legislative texts, and the need to properly assess plans that will spend €800 billion.
“We are not going to waste any single minute, but nevertheless we need a bit of time,” he said.
Mamer added that “it is fair to say that the Commission has been doing its utmost, already until now, to speed up the process” by discussing over past months the national drafts with the capitals.
And he recalled that setting up the recovery fund is a joint endeavour, as member states must still complete the ratification of the Own Resources Decision.
Eight EU countries have yet to approve the decision, although the Commission foresees that it will be concluded by the end of May, so it could seek financing in the markets in June.
The assessment of the recovery plans will take a bit longer. Once the drafts are officially submitted, the Commission has two months to give its verdict, and the Council, meaning the 27 member states, another month.
As a result, the first transfers are not expected to arrive before the end of July, if everything goes well, one year after EU leaders agreed to create the recovery fund.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]