BERLIN (Reuters) – The European Union recovery fund set up to help the bloc recover from the COVID-19 pandemic could be repurposed in light of the war in Ukraine, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner was quoted as saying on Saturday.
“In view of the changed situation, I’m open to prioritising the available funds,” Lindner told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper.
The minister who leads the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) added that what is needed are “investments in infrastructure, energy and competitiveness, but not more state consumption and postponed reforms”.
In an unprecedented move to prevent economic fragmentation due to the pandemic, EU countries agreed in 2020 to jointly borrow 800 billion euros ($878 billion) to spend on rebuilding their economies to be greener and more digitised.
The EU will discuss in a few weeks whether it needs to jointly borrow more money in response to the challenges created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said on Tuesday. L5N2VP2ZB]
France is leading calls for new EU debt, while Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and other countries oppose such new borrowing now, arguing that the economic impact of the war in Ukraine is still unclear and that only 74 billion euros of the fund has been disbursed so far.
($1 = 0.9107 euros)
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Helen Popper)