No, Brussels will not freeze EU recovery funds for Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
EU recovery fund
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MADRID – Several Spanish newspapers reported on Friday that Brussels is threatening to freeze the next payment of the EU recovery fund to Spain. They did so based on a report published by Bloomberg. Moreover, the third payout amounts to €6 billion. 

This message, which was jumped on by El Mundo, ABC and La Razón, among others. However, it was immediately denied on Friday by Veerle Nuyts, spokesperson for the Economy of the European Commission. 

Bloomberg assured Spain ran the risk that the European Commission could suspend the next transfer of European funds because they would supposedly not implement an audit system and control over the distribution of that money. This news was taken up by national newspapers, despite El Mundo’s correspondent in Brussels, Pablo R. Suanzes, having already denied the news on social media. 

Madrid President shared the news 

The President of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, also shared the news published on ABC on Twitter, saying that “the EU is freezing recovery funds for Spain until the country indicates where it will be spent. 

“Any allegation is unfounded” 

Veerle Nuyts then decided to publish six tweets denying the information. “Any allegation is unfounded,” said the spokespersosn for the EC. “Spain has satisfactorily met all milestones and targets associated with all payment claims submitted to date, and the related funding disbursed, subject to approval by the Member States,” Nuyts emphasised. 

She added that Spain has fulfilled the so-called “Milestone 173” “satisfactorily”. “The implementation of a computer system for monitoring and control of the plan,” she stated on social networks. To this end, the government has entered into a series of commitments detailed in the preliminary assessment made in the first payment request. 

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A practice that is a habit for the spokesperson for the Economy of the European Commission. “Other Member States have made similar commitments. These commitments will only be evaluated at the time of the corresponding payment requests,” she added. 

At no time was there any question of freezing funds 

Veerle Nuyts further explained that it will only be at the next review, in the request for the third payment to Spain, when the EC will “assess the application of these commitments”, but at no point has it talked about freezing European funds. 

Following the messages from the European Commission spokesperson, many users have expressed their anger at Ayuso and criticised the Madrid president for not correcting or removing the message. 

Third payment has not yet been requested 

Spain has so far received €31 billion from the European Next Generation fund. That is more than 44% of what the country will receive from Brussels until 2026. Thus, Spain was the first country to present and receive these two payouts. To this end, the country has satisfactorily achieved 83 milestones and 9 objectives. 

The third payment of €6 billion has not yet been requested. This will be linked to the achievement of 29 milestones and objectives (20 reforms and 9 investments). 

Next Generation Funds 

NextGenerationEU is the EU’s €800 billion temporary recovery instrument to support the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and build a greener, more digital and more resilient future. To finance NextGenerationEU, the European Commission is borrowing on the capital markets on behalf of the EU. 

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