France complains about delay in EU virus fund ratification

France on Friday took aim at the failure of some EU countries to rapidly ratify an emergency programme for the bloc’s coronavirus-hit economies, singling out Germany.

The EU’s 750-billion-euro ($885 billion) virus recovery fund, agreed last summer, requires ratification from all 27 EU states before it can be accessed, but only 16 have so far ratified the plan.

Last week, Germany’s Constitutional Court halted ratification in a surprise move, after five individuals filed a challenge that resulted in a temporary injunction.

The plaintiffs argued that the EU should not be pooling debt but that it is up to each country to underwrite its own borrowing to pay for the stimulus.

“I promised the French people that the European money would arrive at the start of the summer, at the start of July. I would like to be able to keep that promise and I would like Europe to understand that we shouldn’t have to wait before being able to spend that money,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told the CNews TV channel.

He said there were “states like Germany who are imposing additional delays”, referring to the decision of the Constitutional Court.

“I can see that the American cavalry arrived on time, that the money is there, the United States have their money,” he said.

“I’d like the European cavalry to arrive on time as well.”

Le Maire said that “growth is needed now, a recovery is needed now. In 2022 or 2023 it will be too late, the Chinese and the Americans will have overtaken us”.

The European Commission expressed hope on Monday that the German court’s decision would not delay ratification for long, saying the stimulus plan’s legality was “in order”.

The landmark offer of loans and outright grants to EU countries hit hardest by the pandemic, financed by joint borrowing of all members, marked a paradigm shift in Germany and other nations long opposed to taking responsibility for other members’ debt.

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