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The Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, is being "sluggish" in the distribution of the European funding intended to combat the economic effects of Covid, the NextGenerationEU funds, which Spain's coalition government presented to the public as a panacea to the economic blows struck by the health crisis. In theory, the EU has so far granted Spain 77 billion euros for the recovery from the Covid pandemic, but very little has reached companies who are to make use of it, specifically 9 billion, or less than 12 percent, according to the British news agency Reuters.

The EU has also questioned some of the uses of recovery funds destined for Spain, considering that some of the proposed projects do not focus on the objectives of a digital and ecological transformation. Reuters notes that the EU initially blocked the spending of funds to buy seaplanes to fight forest fires, given that it was a project based on fossil fuel; it also called on all companies applying for aid to show a positive balance sheet in recent years, which led many small businesses to withdraw their applications.

Apart from the EU's strict criteria, the Spanish bureaucratic labyrinth to be negotiated by those seeking subsidies has added to the paralysis. Although the PSOE and Unidas Podemos coalition government announced the arrival of the 77,000 million as a major deal - and it was also one of the Catalan Republican Left's arguments for lending its votes to the minority government's budget in December last year - the use of only about 23.5 billion euros of the total had even been awarded by this March, according to the latest figures published by the Spanish government. "This is a sluggish pace, because the EU and Spain had set a deadline of the end of this year for awarding all of the 77 billion euros," said the agency.

According to a Bank of Spain survey of 6,000 companies, only 16.5% of companies ended up applying for subsidies, and only 7% have been accepted. "Meanwhile, only around 9 billion euros have actually reached the companies, according to calculations by the ESADE business school's Centre for Economic Policy", it adds. Something similar is happening in Italy, although this country only had 69,000 million euros allocated. The British news agency notes that these Mediterranean countries are test cases for the distribution of NextGenerationEU funds and for that reason it sees the future of the  project with many problems. "The travails of the southern European nations, one in unlocking funds and the other in injecting cash into the real economy, could test the resilience of the EU's stimulus plan, aimed at building a post-pandemic Europe that's greener, digital and more self-sufficient," it points out.