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Brussels unblocks latest recovery funds for Italy

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Brussels unblocks latest recovery funds for Italy
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (R) shakes hands with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (L) in Rome in January 2023. Photo: VINCENZO PINTO/AFP.

The European Commission gave the green light to the third instalment of post-pandemic recovery funds for Italy on Friday, finding the country had satisfactorily met targets to unblock the aid.

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The European Commission gave the green light to the third instalment of post-pandemic recovery funds for Italy on Friday, finding the country had satisfactorily met targets to unblock the aid.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed satisfaction with the decision, calling it a "great result that will allow Italy to receive the €35 billion planned for 2023..."

A third tranche of recovery funds to Italy of €19 billion ($21 billion) had been frozen by Brussels pending clarifications on the allocation of funds and the achievement of objectives.

But on Friday, the Commission in a statement cited 54 "satisfactorily fulfilled" milestones and targets related to ongoing reforms that demonstrate "significant progress in the implementation of Italy's recovery and resilience plan."

Modifications proposed by the Italian government -- and now approved by Brussels -- have reduced the third tranche to 18.5 billion euros, as Italy pushes back a target related to more university student housing.

A fourth tranche, meanwhile, will be increased from €16 billion to €16.5 billion.

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As the top beneficiary of the European post-pandemic plan, Italy is expected to receive €191.5 billion by 2026, but the funding is contingent on reforms to be carried out in exchange for the aid. 

Delays in disbursing European funds risk slowing economic growth and worsening the peninsula's financial situation. 

Italy's public debt stands at over 144 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), the highest ratio in the eurozone after Greece.

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