surinenglish

Spain to get 140bn euros of EU funds in historic Covid-19 deal

Merkel (r), Macron (c) and Sánchez (l) study documents during the crunch meeting in Brussels this week.
Merkel (r), Macron (c) and Sánchez (l) study documents during the crunch meeting in Brussels this week. / AFP
  • Almost 73 billion will be in grants to rebuild the economy, focussing on health, environment and digital technology, and the rest will be loans

The EU reached an agreement at last early on Tuesday morning over funds to help member countries in the wake of coronavirus. Some richer countries, led by the Netherlands, had been trying to get more controls attached to the allocation of the funds.

Spain will be the second biggest beneficiary after Italy. The country will receive a total of 140 billion euros, equivalent to about 11 per cent of its GDP. This will be divided into 72.7 billion of direct grants from 2021-2024 to help the economy recover and the rest in loans that will need to be paid back.

The grant amount is significant as it is almost ten times more than Spain has received from the EU's standard Cohesion Fund from 2014-2020. Unlike the financial crisis a decade ago, this money will not be subject to strict ongoing supervision from Brussels nor dependent on implementing austerity measures.

ANALYSIS

"One of the most brilliant pages in the history of the European Union has been written," said prime minister Pedro Sánchez from Brussels after the deal had been signed with the other 26 countries.

He stressed that Spain was getting almost the full amount it had asked for at the start of the negotiations.

The European Union has urged Spain to use the funds for public spending that will invest in the healthcare system and speed up the transition to a green economy and a digital economy. It added that the new funds were "not free reign for indefinite spending".

Spain "must implement fiscal policies aimed at reaching sensible fiscal positions in the medium term and safeguard the sustainability of debt", the EU explained.

On Thursday the PM launched a España Digital 25 plan to channel public and private investment into new technology.