EU’s Michel cautious on extending deadline for Recovery Fund beyond 2026

By Thomson Reuters Apr 11, 2024 | 6:56 AM

ROME (Reuters) – Caution is needed over proposals to shift the deadline to implement an EU-funded recovery plan beyond 2026, European Union Council President Charles Michel said on Thursday, replying to a question over a recent Italian suggestion to postpone it.

Earlier this week, Rome’s Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti said he was in favour of putting back the deadline to fully invest the 194.4 billion euros ($208.57 billion) to which Italy, the single largest beneficiary of the plan, is entitled.

Giorgetti said the scenario had changed in Europe since the plan was first approved to relaunch the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic, citing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Does it mean some administrative adaptations in terms of delay, in terms of procedure? I would like to be careful and cautious, we have to go more into the details with the (EU) Commission and with the member states,” Michel said after meeting Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Rome.

Speaking in front of the government’s headquarters, Michel remarked the EU was fully committed to helping member states inject the money into their economies and support the investments agreed.

“We need good programs, good projects and we need to make sure that we support the efforts of our member states,” he told reporters.

Rome spent 45.65 billion euros between 2021 and 2023 of EU funds, far below an original target of 86 billion over the same period, which had already been revised downwards several times and then set to 61.4 billion in late 2022.

Late last year Brussels gave a green light to a Rome proposal to revise its post-COVID recovery plan, shelving some of the original projects and adding new ones.

($1 = 0.9321 euros)

(Reporting by Angelo Amante and Matteo Negri; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)