Johan Van Overtveldt critical of the European Recovery Fund: “There are major problems with the distribution criteria”

22 July 2020
Europese vlag

At 750 billion euros, the size of the European Recovery Fund is historic - but then so are the circumstances. This is what Johan Van Overtveldt, MEP and chairman of the Budget Committee, said on the De Ochtend radio show. He sees major holes and poorly considered distribution criteria in the plan. “This is partly an answer to the crisis that is developing. As for the plan’s concrete implementation and fulfilment, I fear that a great many difficulties and problems await us.”

Several different interpretations possible

The European Parliament requested strict conditions, and according to Johan Van Overtveldt, these are present on paper: “A Member State can hit the emergency brake if developments occur that it believes are not in accordance with the conditions associated with the Fund. This is to prevent the financing from continuing. However, you can interpret this emergency brake in various different ways. You can be certain that in the coming period there will be new discussions about the use of the resources. Countries such as the Netherlands will have a different interpretation of this agreement than, for example, Spain and Italy.”

Questions relating to the distribution criteria

Johan Van Overtveldt questions the distribution criteria being used to decide on the allocation of the 750 billion euros among the European Member States. “Historical unemployment figures are being used as a distribution criterion, instead of the consequences of the coronavirus crisis. That’s not objective.” The European Recovery Fund has earmarked 5 billion euros for Belgium. “If better criteria had been worked out, we could perhaps have received more because in a European context our unemployment figures are relatively good. Yet the real problem is the coronavirus crisis and its impact. With more precise criteria that took these elements into account, there would have been more financing for our country.”

Critical note

The European Parliament still has to debate the Recovery Fund and give its approval to the European Multiannual Financial Framework. “At this very moment, the various groups are negotiating hard in this regard. I remember what I heard - that a critical note will be expressed regarding the Michel plan.”

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