July 13 (UPI) -- The European Union accepted the recovery plans of a dozen member states on Monday, giving them the green light to be the first to use EU funds to boost their economies in efforts to overcome the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The foreign ministers of the EU adopted the plans of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain, who had asked for pre-financing from their allocated funds.
The European Council, which oversees the political priorities of the EU, initially gave the countries' plans a favorable review in June for pre-financing disbursements with its decision on Tuesday permitting them access to sign grant and loan agreements for up to 13% of the allocated funds.
Andrej Sircelj, Slovenia's minster of finance, said the decision Tuesday to approve nearly half of the national plans presented is "a big step forward in the European economic recovery."
"With the EU support, the member states can start the reforms and investments needed for the recovery, strengthening and transforming our economies," Sircelj said. "The adopted Council decisions will allow the member states to use the funds not only to recover from the COVID-19 crisis but also to create a resilient, greener and more digital, innovative and competitive Europe for the next EU generations."
The countries will have access to 13% of the $792.1 billion Recovery and Resilience Facility, which is to fuel the 27-member bloc's economic recovery from the pandemic's fallout. Those funds come from a larger $883 billion Next Generation EU COVID-19 recovery package, which also aims to aid the EU in the digital transformation and to combat climate change.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen detailed that Austria will receive $4.1 billion, Belgium $6.9 billion, Denmark $1.7 billion, France $46.4 billion, Germany $30 billion, Greece $35.9 billion, Italy $225.6 billion, Latvia $2.1 billion, Luxembourg $109 million, Portugal $19.5 billion, Slovakia $7.4 billion and Spain $81.8 billion.
"EU funding can soon start to flow to finance reforms & investments," said Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU Commission executive vice president, said via Twitter. "Focus + now putting them into quick and proper effect.
Most of the member states submitted their investment plans in April and May, detailing targets necessary to access the funds, the European Council said.