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Aid Management Also Divides Europe

Spain is no exception. The silent battle that the Government is experiencing for the management of European aid against the coronavirus crisis was made clear on Tuesday, when Minister María Jesús Montero was forced to rectify a draft that excluded Vice President Pablo Iglesias from the control of controls of the rain of millions that will presumably come from Europe: 140,000 million euros, of the 72,700 million will be direct subsidies.

It is a figure equivalent to 11.2% of Spanish GDP in 2019. Given the uproar caused, President Sánchez resolved it by including all the ministers in the management, a decision that may reduce the effectiveness of the management. In other European countries there have also been struggles over the management of funds.

Italy. The Government of Giuseppe Conte is not agrees on how and from where to administer EU funds to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

There is no agreement on how the office that will manage the 209,000 million that correspond to Italy (127,000 in loans and 81,000 non-refundable) will be set up. It is debated whether the Palazzo Chigi (the seat of the presidency) or the Ministry of Economy led by the Social Democrat Roberto Gualtieri should do so.

“It will be a structure with a management profile that will supervise the projects and control their execution,” said Prime Minister Conte. “The structure will be in the Chigi Palace, with the coordination of other ministries,” he added.

However, resistance within the four-party coalition is slowing down the times and concerns are beginning to spread that the deadlines imposed by the EU are not being met. Conte wants there to be a control and sanctions if the projects are not executed properly, and that the Parliament also participates in the control of the projects. But many ministers also claim their participation fee.

France. In Paris, the management of European aid has not been at the center of public debate.

Perhaps this is due to the decision to include the 40,000 million grants allocated by the EU to its own stimulus package, which in total amounts to 100,000 million euros for the next two years.

As announced on September 3, when presenting its recovery plan, the main person in charge of managing it will be the Ministry of Economy in the hands of Bruno Le Maire who, at the beginning of 2021, will present to Brussels its “investment and reform strategy” with the European funds, although sources from his team point out that the first contacts have already taken place and that there is a “fairly clear” idea of ​​what the money will be used for.

Even so, at the national level a Recovery Monitoring Council has been created chaired by Prime Minister Jean Castex , in charge of “reviewing the progress of the plan in a sectoral and territorial logic”.

The Council, as these sources emphasize, associates “deputies and MEPs, as well as trade unions, employers, representatives of the communities, NGOs and civil society, as well as economists and state services.”

To this council is added a Steering Committee chaired by Le Maire that meets weekly to “monitor the implementation of the different measures of the plan and ensure the maintenance of the schedule of loan commitments in two years.”

Finally, every six months an inter-ministerial council chaired by Castex will be held to decide the “reallocations, if necessary, of the credits” if the original beneficiaries do not fulfill their part. Regional monitoring committees are also planned to monitor local projects and identify potential problems.

Germany. The coalition government, made up of the Christian Democrats of the CDU, the Bavarian Social Christians of the CSU and the Social Democrats of the SPD, agreed on August 25 to create a working group made up of officials from the Chancellery and the Ministry of Finance to design a proposal aimed at using the more than 22.7 billion non-refundable aid for Germany provided for by the EU.

The proposal, according to a spokesman for the Ministry of Finance, will be presented to the federal government in December or early January 2021. It must approve the distribution of funds and will be coordinated with the ministries and parties of the grand coalition.

Germany will use the funds for projects under the so-called Future Technologies Participation Fund.

Belgium. The battle to control the management of the 5,150 million euros in direct aid has not been so much between the different factions of the Belgian Government but between the regions of the country. Flanders, for example, is claiming 3 billion euros.

The Government first thought about making a distribution by projects and not territories, but finally it has opted for an “equitable regional distribution” that will be agreed before the end of the year.

Belgium wants to have a first version of the plan in the coming weeks. The work is headed by the Secretary of State for Recovery and Strategic Investments, Thomas Dermine, who has divided the preparation of the plan into five working groups: climate, digitization, mobility, productivity and social sphere.

Three other transversal groups of economic budgets, economic impact and international dimension will follow all the proposals from beginning to end. All of them will start meeting already this week.

The results of these groups will later be delivered to a political committee that will be made up of members of the federal government and federated entities. The plan will be officially delivered to the Commission in April.

The management of the aid corresponds to the Secretary of State for the recovery and strategic investments. The last word on planning is from the coalition government, because territories and sensitivities enter.

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