EU chief gives initial approval to national stimulus packages | greece economy


LISBON, Portugal – European Union authorities move closer to deploying the bloc’s huge pandemic stimulus fund as the chairman of the bloc’s 27-country executive board begins a tour of select EU capitals to announce initial approval of national expenditure plans.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrived in Portugal on Wednesday, which was the first EU member to formally present ideas to spend her share of the 750 billion euros ($ 909 billion) intended to help countries emerge from a severe economic downturn caused by COVID-19.

The money must be distributed in the form of grants and credits. The seven-year EU budget of 1.1 trillion euros ($ 1.3 trillion) starting next year will also help national economies.

In Portugal, Von der Leyen was to tell Prime Minister António Costa that his government’s plan to use his 16.6 billion euros ($ 20 billion) has earned the blessing of the European Commission. Final approval of plans for EU countries is still a few weeks away.

Portugal says that a large part of its spending will go to improving the public health network, reducing pollution from public transport, improving the energy efficiency of housing and purchasing computers for schools.

So far, 23 of the 27 EU countries have submitted their spending plans to the Brussels authorities, who monitor them to ensure they are in line with the bloc’s political goals and plan to follow up to verify s ‘they respect their commitments.

After Portugal, Von der Leyen was due to travel to Spain later in the day to meet with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

She plans to visit Greece, Denmark and Luxembourg later this week.

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