Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Sunday laid out the conditions he would need to approve a controversial European Union coronavirus pandemic recovery package.
“If we are spending a great deal of state money, we should at least ensure that it’s flowing into the right areas,” Kurz told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.
“Above all, more research and development towards a good digital infrastructure, including in the technological transition that is needed for better climate protection,” added the Austrian leader.
Kurz is not alone in believing that the so-called recovery package should pave the way for a greener and more digital EU.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is among the key proponents of the recovery plan.
EU leaders are set to meet at a special summit on July 17-18. Many are hopeful that this will see signs of agreement on a proposed European Commission recovery package worth €750 billion ($851 billion).
But Austria, along with Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden — known as the EU’s Frugal Four — would prefer loans rather than grants.
“Conditionality is necessary so that money does not just serve to plug holes in the budget,” Kurz said. He repeated his belief that the recipient countries should have to repay at least part of the aid.
Spain and Italy, two of the EU’s worst-affected countries in the coronavirus crisis, are expected to be among the main recipients in any recovery plan.
Both have seen their economies struggle as the tourism sector essentially shut down for several months.
Negotiations on details of the recovery plan have ended inconclusively before.
ed/mm (AFP, dpa)
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