Italy asks for target revisions to get new tranche of EU funds

Italy asks for target revisions to get new tranche of EU funds

Rome accumulated delays in meeting objectives included in EU recovery plan, now faces tough negotiations with Brussels

By Giada Zampano

ROME (AA) - The Italian government on Tuesday requested a change in the targets needed to obtain a fourth tranche of the much-awaited EU recovery funds, seeking to revise 10 out of the 27 objectives included in the plan.

After a long string of delays – also due to the complex structure of the National Recovery and Resilience Fund (PNRR) and its ambitious targets – Rome has been struggling to complete the key reforms needed to unlock the funds.

Under the NextGenerationEU plan, Italy was entitled to €68.9 billion ($75.7 billion) in grants and €122.6 billion in cheap loans, for a grand total of €191.5 billion – more than any other country in Europe.

However, Rome has so far received a pre-financing package and two installments totaling €67 billion, but the government is still struggling to access a third tranche of €19 billion – which was expected by end June – and faces even more serious hurdles for the next ones.

In a news conference following an urgent meeting of the PNRR task force, EU Affairs Minister Raffaele Fitto said the new requests are meant to avoid further delays in obtaining the future tranches and represent a “method” the government intends to follow to stay on track.

“This path of targets’ revision will lead to the request of the entire fourth tranche, as we don’t envisage to reduce the funding,” Fitto said. The fourth installment should amount to €16 billion.

The minister also rejected widespread criticism over delays in the implementation of the PNRR, which sparked fears that it will not be possible to complete all the key projects – expected to give a crucial boost to Italy’s fragile economy – by the 2026 deadline.

According to official data, only a tiny portion of the recovery funds has been spent so far, spurring concerns also in Europe that many of the projects will have to be modified or might never materialize.

Rome has already started talks with Brussels to request a revision of the plan, but negotiations are expected to be long and complex. Payments are agreed by the EU Commission on condition that all the planned targets are met.

Center-left opposition leader and Democratic Party head Elly Schlein on Tuesday called on Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to address parliament over the plan’s delays.

“Meloni should face her responsibilities and come to parliament to explain why not even one euro of the third instalment of the recovery plan has materialized yet, and why the fourth instalment risks being delayed too,” she said.

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