© Reuters. Italy tries to speed up the third disbursement of European funds after extension
Rome, Apr 21 (.).- The Italian Government held a meeting today to speed up the investment of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) due to the pandemic and thus obtain the third disbursement of European funds, after the delays that forced Brussels to extend the evaluation by one month.
The application of the plan endowed with 191.5 million euros has been one of the priorities of the government of the far-right Giorgia Meloni since she came to power last October and, therefore, created a Ministry for European Affairs, Cohesion Policies and PNRR , in the hands of Raffaele Fito.
Fito summoned this Friday the ministers on whom these investments depend: the vice president and head of Infrastructure, Matteo Salvini; that of the Interior, Matteo Piantedosi; that of Education and Merit, Giuseppe Valditara, and that of Economy, Giancarlo Giorgetti, to illustrate the works that must be done before June 30
The objective is “to continue the work of the Government for a positive conclusion of the verification of all the objectives achieved on December 31, 2022 by the EC and to perfect the request for the third payment of the PNRR and the milestones of June 2023”.
Salvini presented the content of a plan to regulate port concessions, demanded by Brussels, and some pitfalls have been studied, such as hydrogen experimentation works in the road or rail network, while Valditara illustrated the situation of some works in progress, such as improvements in the childcare system.
On March 27, after several delays, the European Commission (EC) and Rome agreed to extend the evaluation of projects financed with PNRR funds by one month, specifically those related to port concessions, heating networks and urban planning.
Until then, Italy had met all the objectives set for 2021 and 2022, a total of 151 compared to the 527 committed for 2026 -the limit year set by the European Union-, and has received 66.9 billion euros.
But the disbursement of 19,000 million euros linked to the second half of 2022 has been suspended, due to delays in the application and bureaucratic obstacles, and these days are decisive to achieve compliance with said objectives.
Meloni herself has urged to apply the program because the priority “is not to lose money”, although she has endorsed the cause of the delays to her predecessor, the economist Mario Draghi, effectively its author.
The Prime Minister continues to bet on modifying the PNRR and has ensured that the negotiation to this end with the European authorities “is ongoing”.
The opposition leader, the progressive Elly Schlein, has lamented the delays in the application of the PNRR, especially in the south of the country, and has demanded the parliamentary appearance of Minister Fito, while the secretary of the largest union in the country, the CGIL, warned today of the “risk of losing the money”.
“Our country is the last to apply European funds because it is not capable of spending them. We have been asking for it for a long time, regional governments and municipalities must be hired and trained so that they can do it,” Maurizio Landini urged.