Numerous statements by major political leaders from the current majority, regularly reported in the press, emphasise that the amount allocated to Italy from the Recovery Fund is due solely to the fact that the Commission approves of the current government. It has also explicitly been stated that with a right-wing, less welcome government, those funds would not have arrived.
Zingaretti (PD – Democratic Party): ‘With the sovereigntists in power, Italy would not have obtained what it did obtain from the Recovery Fund’.
Bonaccini (PD): ‘If the Right were in power today, we would have no Recovery Fund’.
Di Maio (M5S – Five-Star Movement): ‘Europe has given us money from the Recovery Fund also because of our premier’s great credibility’.
Provenzano (PD): ‘We now have a great opportunity, that of the Recovery Fund, which would not be available if the sovereigntist Right had been in government.’
These statements would appear to indicate that the Commission uses its powers and prerogatives to influence the democratic dynamics of Member States by freezing resources for politically unwelcome governments and supporting ‘friendly’ ones.
This is a very serious issue which would delegitimise the Commission and its independence.
On 8 October 2020, Italian Member of the European Parliament Carlo Fidanza of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, tabled a written parliamentary question to the European Commission. MEP Fidanza requested to know “have the Recovery Fund resources been allocated on the basis of the political affiliation of national governments?” and “will the Commission publicly refute the above-mentioned statements?”
On 23 November, Commissioner Johannes Hahn, responsible for Budget and Administration, responded on behalf of the European Commission. In his response, he reported that “the allocation methods of the European Council conclusions of July 2020 concerning Next Generation EU funds, in particular for the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), build on the Commission proposals of May 2020, while providing for certain modifications” and “these criteria are objective, such as population size, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, unemployment rate, loss in real GDP over given years as well as gross national income when it comes to possible loans-based support”.
Commissioner Hahn further explained that “the Honourable Member will find the preliminary allocation table by Member State, including Italy, of non-repayable support under the RRF on the Commission’s website, based on the European Council conclusions of July 2020”. He also said that “the allocation methods and national envelopes will be set and finalised only with the adopted legislation” and that “for some programmes, no amounts per Member State could be defined a priori as they will be based on statistics available at a later stage”.
Lastly, Commissioner Hahn concluded that “as for the Honourable Member’s second question, it is the Commission’s policy not to comment on public statements made by politicians in the Member States”.
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