France: Police clash with protesters in Paris
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Speaking to French daily Le Figaro, the French minister for European Affairs claimed the EU has come a long way since the adaptation of the bloc’s Recovery Fund. Mr Beaune rebuked calls for the bloc to allow member states more independence as he argued for even more integration.
He said: “I refute the idea of dropping out of Europe.
“Europe did not disintegrate in this crisis, it did not even disunite.
“The emergency measures were at least as strong as in the United States.
“The reliance plan is up to the task.
“We must break the framework and create own resources for the EU.”
EU news: Clement Beaune says EU’s response to Covid was as good as the US’ (Image: GETTY)
The comments sparked the outrage of French MEP Jerome Riviere who lamented Mr Beaune and his allies are failing to learn from the shortcomings of the bloc made obvious by the coronavirus crisis.
The National Rally MEP said: “The European ideologists have decidedly learned no lesson from the health crisis.
“For them the answer is always the same: always more EU and always less freedoms for the Nations!”
It comes as the European Commission has so far only managed to approve 16 out of 27 member states’ spending proposals.
The EU executive gave the green light to the recovery plans of Croatia, Cyprus, Lithuania and Slovenia, today.
But this morning’s virtual meeting of the EU finance ministers was the last of the season until September 10, leaving yet 11 member states short of approval.
EU ambassadors are expected to discuss the plans from the Czech Republic and Ireland, already endorsed by Ursula von der Leyen, in September.
But, despite the pressing urgency of member states receiving the bloc’s recovery funds, the Commission President will still have to look at plans from Estonia, Finland, Malta and Sweden when she and her team will return from the summer break.
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EU news: Recovery Fund coronavirus grants per country (Image: EXPRESS)
To make things worse for the EU chief, the Netherlands and Bulgaria are still discussing their respective plans within their parliament due to coalition talks in both countries.
And, of course, Hungary and Poland will remain unaccounted for as the two countries continue to battle Brussels over rule of law issues.
The Commission withheld its approval of Viktor Orban’s recovery plan over allegations of corruption against his government and the implementation of an anti-LGBT+ law.
Warsaw, on the other hand, is seeing its recovery proposals put on hold over its dispute with Brussels on a controversial judicial review in the country.
The Hungarian Prime Minister, however, hit back at the Commission chief over the weekend threatening to go solo on the quick refunding of his country’s recovery.
In total, €393bn has been allocated so far from the bloc’s pot, with Italy taking the lion’s share of €191.5bn and Spain €69.5bn.
The measures approved in the national plans are centred around six policy areas set out in the regulation establishing the Recovery and Resilience Facility.
The areas include the green and digital transition, smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, and social and territorial cohesion.
Individual member states’ measures to achieve recovery and enhance the EU’s resilience include, for example, decarbonisation of industry, building renovation, digitalisation of public administration and reskilling of the labour force.
The plans also address the country-specific recommendations identified in the course of the 2019 and 2020 European Semester discussions.