What to do with the money from Brussels?
The 750-billion-euro recovery package is a historic achievement: for the first time in its history the EU has put together a debt-financed stimulus package to counter the pandemic-induced recession. Tens of billions of euros will now flow into the coffers of individual member states. However, the joy of many commentators over a unique opportunity for a fresh start is mixed with marked scepticism in some countries.
Croatia secured 22 billion euros at the recovery summit. An enormous opportunity that the country must make the most of, stresses Večernji list:
“The loans are being granted under the best conditions, the ones accorded to those countries and bodies - such as recently the EU institutions - that are given an AAA credit rating. It's fantastic that thanks to the EU suddenly a state which is always on the verge of receiving a very bad investment rating and which counts itself lucky whenever it manages to escape the 'junk' rating is being given the chance to relax in these crisis times and enjoy the best possible credit rating. This also sets a precedent in the history of both our country and the European Union.”
A chance to catch up
Commenting in La Stampa, journalist Alan Friedman sees a unique opportunity for Italy to become more competitive:
“The country can focus on digitalisation, the green economy, reducing non-wage labour costs, its post-Covid healthcare, education, and reforms and investments to reduce the productivity gap between Italy and Germany. Italy must become a modern country and also a performance-oriented market where top salaries for the best performers are not viewed with suspicion. ... It must make itself more attractive for foreign direct investment by reforming its civil law system and finally taking serious action against the inefficiency of its public administration.”
The billions alone won't achieve anything
The Romanians shouldn't celebrate too soon over the 80 billion euros allocated to the country, Spotmedia warns:
“Where the money goes now depends not on the EU, the 'frugal' or Merkel and Macron, but on the Romanian government and the financing projects it is developing. ... The amount is considerable, but it will only flow into the pockets of citizens, into pensions, social benefits, schools and hospitals, if there is the political and administrative will to reform, relaunch and develop the country - or whatever term the top politicians prefer to use for this.”
New debt, new austerity measures
The aid for Greece carries risks, Avgi warns:
“12.5 of the 32 billion are loans that, if Greece takes them out, will increase its debt. The rest are subsidies. To pay them off the country must present a 'reform plan'. And this will be catastrophic from a social point of view. ... At the heart of the plan are tax reforms to benefit the rich, complete flexibility in labour and the transition to a [radically market-oriented] social security system à la Pinochet. ... 'Reforms' in exchange for money at a time of double-digit recession. Does this remind you of an austerity memorandum? Yes, it does.”