EU needs to implement recovery plan to “get through storm”: Commission high-ups

The post-pandemic top priority for the European Union (EU) is implementing the recovery package agreed by EU leaders and ensuring that the aid reaches the people, the European Commission’s top echelons told the Brussels Economic Forum on Tuesday.

Addressing the annual economic event, executive Vice President of the European Commission Valdis Dombrovskis and European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni both stressed the importance of building economies for future generations.

What Europe needs now is a strong and inclusive recovery and it is the objective of the EU’s recovery package “to be a ship that keeps afloat in rough seas and gets us through the storm,” said Dombrovskis, referring to the 1.85-trillion-euro recovery plan designed to finance measures to make European economies more resilient.

He added that Europe is at the brink of change and the challenge is to make sure that “our ship of recovery sets sail as soon as possible. This is a time for looking forward, not back.”

Gentiloni spoke about how Europe took the leading role to counter the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The task is very difficult, but the European leadership is absolutely necessary, said Gentiloni, who also warned against tightening the rules too fast in 2021, adding that EU member states were expected to come up with recovery plans which must be aligned with the EU’s common social and green goals.

He noted that 37 percent of each member state’s recovery plan is dedicated to environmental and climate initiatives.

The opinions were echoed by European Council President Charles Michel, who addressed the forum in the closing speech.

Despite admitting that EU leaders held divergent views about the health measures and the EU was criticized for acting too slow in the initial stage of the pandemic, Michel emphasized that compared with the 2008/2009 financial crisis, Europe took decisions decisively and quickly.