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France urges EU to speed up approval of pandemic recovery spending

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France presented plans for billions of dollars in spending from the European Union’s pandemic stimulus fund, calling on the European Commission to speed up its approval of massive spending plans designed to support economies battered by Covid restrictions -19.

In a joint press 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 if funds were not released quickly.

“We have wasted too much time,” said Le Maire. “China has resumed its growth. The United States is booming. The EU must stay in the race.”

Last year, the French economy shrank by 8.3% amid a viral crisis, the worst crisis since World War II, according to the national statistics institute INSEE.

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In July, EU countries agreed to set up a coronavirus recovery fund worth 750 billion euros ($ 906 billion), the equivalent of 5.6% of their proceeds. combined gross domestic, financed by jointly subscribed debt.

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France and Germany are among a dozen countries scheduled on Wednesday to submit to the EU’s executive body their plans for how they plan to spend their share of the money.

The Commission will analyze the national spending plans, allowing the European Council to approve them “by July at the latest,” Le Maire said, which will translate into payments by the end of the summer.

Scholz, however, told the press conference that he believed the process was “on track” for Germany and France as well as other countries.

“There is this ratification process going on and I have no doubts that we will be successful in the end,” said Scholz.

Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the various stimulus plans would be “translated into legal texts” in the coming weeks.

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“ A revolutionary step for Europe ”

As part of the pandemic stimulus fund, France is expected to receive around 40 billion euros ($ 48 billion) while Germany’s Scholz said his country is budgeting around 28 billion euros ($ 36 billion ) expenses.

Scholz said half of the money would go to environmentally friendly projects and a quarter to spreading the use of digital technology. He said the fund would build on national relief and stimulus measures already adopted by the German government.

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He called the fund “a revolutionary step for Europe”.

The Spanish cabinet also approved its proposal on how it wants to invest the recovery funds. It is expected to receive 140 billion euros ($ 166 billion) – half in direct payments and the other half in loans – from the EU’s stimulus package, just behind Italy.

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In line with EU priorities, Spain’s left-wing government has focused on creating a greener economy while increasing the productivity of an economy that shrank by 11% last year.

Money from the fund, which was agreed in July 2020, comes under pressure from Brussels to address issues identified by the European Commission’s review of member states’ economic policies.

Spain, for example, is urged to revise labor laws, tax practices and pensions. Low tax countries like Ireland or Cyprus are under pressure to discourage aggressive tax planning by multinationals.

Italy’s € 221.1 billion ($ 267.3 billion) turnaround plan includes measures to reduce its backlog of legal cases, which is seen as a drag on companies that fail to do so. can not quickly resolve business disputes.



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