European Commission greenlights Spain and Portugal’s recovery plans
‘This is beginning of our largest transformation in 40 years,’ says Spanish prime minister
The European Commission officially approved the post-COVID recovery plans of Spain and Portugal on Wednesday, worth a combined total of up to €156 billion ($188 billion) in EU grants and loans.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen traveled to both Lisbon and Madrid to make the announcements, praising the usefulness of the digital EU travel certificate, which she used for the first time.
“The vaccine campaign is advancing and the recovery is beginning. Today we can begin to look at the future with hope. With the Next Generation EU, we are going to modernize the European Union for the decades to come,” she told reporters in Madrid.
The Council of the European Union still has to approve the funding for each country, but the money for Spain and Portugal is now expected to be released within a month.
On Tuesday, the European Commission raised its first tranche of the fund through the sale of €20 billion worth of 10-year bonds.
In total, the EU recovery fund will be worth as much as €800 billion. Around 40% of the money will go toward sustainability projects, said von der Leyen.
Both the Portuguese and Spanish prime ministers praised Wednesday’s announcements.
“The two plans approved in Spain and Portugal open the door to a new way of understanding the European Union, cooperating and facing challenges together,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told press.
“This is the beginning of Spain’s largest transformation in 40 years,” he continued.
Meanwhile, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said the European Commission’s step “means that hope has now turned into trust.”
Costas, who was the first European leader to submit his country’s recovery plan to the EU, also recognized it would not be easy.
“We know, dear Ursula, that the hard work is just beginning,” he said at the joint press conference in Lisbon.
On Thursday, von der Leyen will travel to Athens.