The visit to Spain of a delegation from the European Parliament, which between Monday and last Wednesday proved on the ground the control of European funds and their execution, a function to remind that the beneficiary countries are not the only ones that are at stake with the correct execution of the ‘Next Generation EU’. The European Commission itself and its president, the German Úrsula von der Leyen, have assumed a very relevant role with this massive financial intervention.
The 750,000 million euro program designed to deal with the effects of the Covid pandemic on the bloc’s economies -and which also serves to deal with the inflationary and energy crisis aggravated by the war in Ukraine- has always been seen as the optimal tests to launch an even larger project: that of a future mechanism to issue Eurobonds (or mutualized debt of the Twenty-seven) on a recurring basis. Von der Leyen took it forward at a time when the European Parliament itself had accused her of lack of ambition.
The one in Spain was only the first exam of the three that the mission led by Monika Hohlmeier, from the European People’s Party (EPP), will take throughout this semester, who have yet to visit France and Hungary between now and June. “We are by nature critical of the work of the Commission and of the countries,” the German justified herself in a moderate tone during her appearance before the media in Madrid. However, even before her arrival in Spain, the delegation revealed the usual clash of powers between Parliament and the Commission.
The European Commission “has a lot at stake” because a recovery plan of this magnitude was unthinkable until recently, Susana Solís, a Ciudadanos MEP who accompanied the mission, points out to this newspaper. She is “the first interest” in that the program develops well and she must ensure that both the mechanism and the millionaire funds that have been endowed work, that the economic interests of the region “are safeguarded,” she adds. . “If we want the issue of joint debt to be approved in the future”, the European Commission has to guarantee that the Recovery Plan goes well.
During the financial crisis, it seemed unthinkable to even put on the table the proposal for a joint issuance of bonds that “would have saved many sacrifices”, for this reason Solís understands that before taking that next step, it is necessary to be sure that the addendum of the countries is good. , that there is really a transformative use of the funds, that the control over them works and that there is transparency in the information about them that enough is offered to the citizens in general.
Check the Commission… not Spain
It also stresses that as representatives of the EU budgetary control authority, the planned mission has to travel to the rest of the countries that will be beneficiaries of the funds to see first-hand what is being done at the national level to protect financial interests of the EU with this new instrument. “We are controlling the Commission, not Spain,” he says. “We do not come here to complain for the love of criticism. We come so that things improve, putting our finger on the sore, for the good of all,” Hohlmeier herself pointed out in the same vein last Wednesday, significantly lowering the tone in in relation to his previous statements, in which he came to question the destination of the money that Europe has transferred to Spain.
Solís acknowledges that the visit has been very positive, also for the image of Spain, as he has been able to verify first-hand in conversations with several investment fund CEOs. After making it clear that the mission is not made up of auditors, he stresses that there are aspects that, in his opinion, could be improved, such as transparency when presenting the data or the issue of co-governance with the autonomies. He also points to the fact that Spain has not used fiscal projects, as other countries have done and have managed to release the funds more quickly. It has been one of the aspects that the companies with which they interviewed transferred them this week.