April 13. 2024. 5:33

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EU Parliament delegation starts ‘hot mission’ in Spain, clashes with Madrid

A European Parliament delegation which begins its tour in Madrid to monitor the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Fund will be marked by the mission chief’s criticism against the Spanish Minister of Economy who bears “responsibility” for the good management of EU money.

The European Parliament visit has created tensions in the Spanish Executive, and local media are already comparing it to what they previously dubbed “men in black” missions, referring to EU experts coming to assess the implementation of EU financial programmes.

The “hot” European Parliament mission comes after the European Commission approved the third tranche from the EU recovery fund for Spain worth €6 billion after verifying that Madrid has met the 29 objectives linked to it, among others, the reform of the pension system.

EU member states now have four weeks to approve the payment which, if confirmed, will bring to about €37 billion the total subsidies received from the Next Generation EU fund by Spain, the EU country that has received the most disbursements to date.

‘Passing on the responsibility’

Unlike the last EU mission in October that praised efforts in meeting all EU targets, things do not seem as positive this time.

Last week, the mission’s chief, German MEP Monika Hohlmeier (CDU/EPP), criticised the way Spain managed the plan, directly pointing at Economy Minister Nadia Calviño (PSOE/S&D).

Hohlmeier, chair of the European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee, accused Calviño of “passing the responsibility for the success of the plan (RRF) to the Spanish regions”.

“It was interesting to read that you seem to be passing the responsibility for the success of the RRF to the Spanish regions”, she wrote in a letter seen by EURACTIV’s partner EFE, addressed only to Calviño, although the letter to which she was replying was also signed by Finance Minister, María Jesús Montero (PSOE/S&D).

Hohlmeier, who is very critical of the way the Spanish government is implementing the plan, took note of Calviño’s “proactivity” for having sent a letter first and is said to be “sure that (the Spanish Minister) did not intend to anticipate the conclusions of the (EP) mission before it had begun”.

In this regard, she recalled that the visit aims to “analyse the implementation of the Spanish Recovery and Resilience plan, including milestones and objectives and in particular the management, audit and control systems in place”.

The German MEP assures that the visit “will be carried out in a non-politicised and fact-based manner” and affirms that all the meetings planned over the three days will serve to gain a “deeper” understanding of the implementation of the reforms and investments envisaged in the plan.

In the letter, Hohlmeier describes it as “surprising” that Calviño’s letter “was shared with the press” even “shortly after” she herself had received it and “the members of the (EU Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee) had the opportunity to become properly acquainted with its content”.

The implementation of EU funds included in the Recovery Plan has increased by more than 13% in 2022, a year in which there was “spectacular progress” and “intense acceleration” with projects authorised for € 25.143 billion, Calviño and Montero explained last week.

(Antonio Suárez-Bustamante, Laura Pérez-Cejuela, Laura Zornoza and Raquel Cinca, EFE | Fernando Heller/ EuroEFE.EURACTIV.es)