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World

EU chief in Lisbon to launch recovery fund

  • Portugal was the first country to submit its own plan back in April and is set to receive 16 billion euros ($19 billion) in funding.
16 Jun 2021

LISBON: European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen arrived in Lisbon Wednesday where she will begin approving recovery plans submitted by nations seeking funding from the bloc's coronavirus recovery fund.

In visiting Portugal, which currently holds the EU's six-month rotating presidency, Von der Leyen begins activating the landmark 750-billion-euro ($910-billion) recovery plan, Next Generation EU, which was drawn up nearly a year ago.

Later on Wednesday she travels to Madrid then heads to Greece and Denmark on Thursday, then to Luxembourg the next day on a tour that will take her to most member states.

The choice to start in Portugal and Spain is symbolic.

Portugal was the first country to submit its own plan back in April and is set to receive 16 billion euros ($19 billion) in funding.

As holder of the rotating presidency, it has made the rapid adoption of these recovery plans a priority following their recommendation by the commission.

Spain is also a significant choice in that it will be the second-largest beneficiary of the rescue fund after Italy, with Madrid to receive 140 billion euros ($170 billion), half of which will take the form of direct grants and loans.

Von de Leyen arrived in Lisbon travelling for the first time on her "Covid passport", the European health certificate which Belgium began using on Wednesday and which will become operational across the EU on July 1.

"I am planning now to start my tour through 27 member states for the Next Generation EU.. and I'm very curious to test and to see how this certificate will work," she said just before leaving, showing the QR code on her phone.

Later in the afternoon, the commission chief will meet Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez at the headquarters of the national electricity board with Madrid to drive the bulk of its funding into the green transition.