Barroso considers that the Recovery Fund agreed in Brussels is “a financial orgy”

The former president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, defends that Portugal will have to do a good management of the community funds and that the Assembly of the Republic should reinforce its supervisory role on its application.

Former European Commission President José Manuel Barroso considers that the financial package agreed in Brussels to respond to the crisis caused by Covid-19 in the European Union (EU) is “a mass kite” and can be defined as “almost a financial orgy ”. Durão Barroso argues that Portugal will have to do a good management of EU funds and that Parliament should reinforce its supervisory role on its application.

“[The Recovery Fund] is, in fact, a mass kite, almost a financial orgy,” said Barroso, in an interview with radio “Observador”. “Quite honestly, the question will be more about how to use the money (…) The absorption capacity of the Member States in relation to Community money is very variable. Portugal is not in a bad position there, but neither is it, as I have heard, the best. Far from it".

At stake is the 1,82 billion euro agreement reached on the fifth day of negotiations between Member States. Of this amount, 1,074 billion euros will go to the budget for 2021-2027 and the remaining 750 billion to a Recovery Fund, with just over half in grants. From the Recovery Fund, 390 billion euros will be non-refundable transfers and the remaining 360 billion in the form of a loan.

Of the € 1,82 billion agreed in Brussels, Portugal is expected to raise 45 billion euros over the next seven years. The amount represents an increase of 37% compared to the 32,7 billion euros that Portugal has in the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework, which did not include the Recovery Fund.

Barroso also suggests that a “commission to monitor the use of all these funds” be created in Parliament. “With these exceptional challenges, even greater intervention by the Assembly of the Republic is justified. This is, in fact, an aid to the Government (…) Instead of doing those commissions a posteriori to see what went wrong, maybe it would be good to make a commission now so that it doesn't go wrong ”, he argued.

For the ex-president of the European Commission, this commission should focus not only on the application of the funds allocated to the Member States, within the scope of the Recovery Fund, created specifically to respond to the pandemic, but on “all structural funds "Because" are connected ".

“Because of the urgency, size and exceptional relevance that this European aid has for Portugal, self-monitoring would be justified - for example, through a monitoring committee in the Assembly of the Republic - that would guarantee transparency and would also be, from the point of view European, we show it to our partners that there is no one more interested than Portugal in the good execution of these funds ”, he indicated.

In the same interview, José Manuel Barroso admits that “it was difficult to obtain this agreement” which required five days of negotiations in Brussels, but says that “five days for this amount and for these innovations, it was not excessive time”. "There are 27 countries around the table," he said.

Barroso was also skeptical about the possibility that the 27 EU member states could reach an agreement if the United Kingdom was still part of the European project. “The head of the 'frugais' [countries that defend cuts and conditionalities in support (the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Denmark and Finland)] is no longer in the European Union. It was the United Kingdom, ”he said.

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