© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Italy’s Draghi submits a recovery plan to Parliament in Rome
ROM (Reuters) – Italy presented its recovery plan to the European Commission late Friday, a government spokesman said, not bringing the document to Brussels until the April 30 target date set for all 27 EU countries.
The plans are a prerequisite for drawing cash from the EU’s one-time € 750 billion ($ 902 billion) fund, which was set up to help member states recover from the coronavirus pandemic and the Enable the continent to have a greener, more digital and more resilient economy.
Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19, is entitled to around 205 billion euros, the largest slice offered to an EU country.
Rome has been in intense negotiations with the Commission in recent weeks to address Brussels concerns that its plan lacks details of structural reforms and their implementation and monitoring, sources told Reuters.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi intervened directly last Sunday and called on Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to ensure that the negotiations run smoothly. He then changed the document before submitting it to his cabinet.
The government has agreed to an ambitious series of reforms, including cutting red tape, shaking tax legislation and streamlining the legal system, and promised to get them through parliament at record speed.
Draghi told Parliament this week that the recovery plan was key to “the country’s fate” and had always said it would be presented by the end of April in order to get EU funding as soon as possible.
The Commission has called the April 30 target date a “soft deadline” with no penalty for late arrivals, saying it is more important that national plans are of high quality than that they land on time.
Several EU countries submitted their plans before Italy, while many others are expected to send them to Brussels in May.
The Commission has two months from the date it receives a national scheme to verify that it meets the criteria. The EU finance ministers then have another month to assess them.
No EU money is expected to be paid out before July.
($ 1 = 0.8317 euros)
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