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Italy's political crisis raises concerns in Brussels over pandemic spending

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Italy's political crisis raises concerns in Brussels over pandemic spending
Copyright  AFP PHOTO / ITALY'S PRIME MINISTER OFFICE
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Italy's political crisis and the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has raised concerns in Brussels that the distribution of the country's pandemic recovery funds could be hampered.

Italy's national parliament has already approved a first draft of how to utilise the money, but there are still many details of the plan left to be resolved.

But European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told Euronews it is vital that the work on this continues.

"We expect that this work will go on. In any case, Italy is by far the largest recipient of the recovery funds, so there is a lot of interest across the political spectrum to ensure that the preparatory work is done and Italy can start receiving that money," Dombrovskis told Euronews.

The most likely scenario is a third mandate for Conte, but there are fears that new elections could slow down the process of administering the EU pandemic money.

Irene Tinagli, an Italian socialist MEP, told Euronews that Italy already has a good basis for its plan.

"Whatever happens in the next few days, we are not going to start from scratch and we had already put in place some reforms or ideas on how to speed up the implementation process because we know that that will be the big challenge," Tinagli said.

But the political crisis in Italy is worrying some of the more financially cautious member states, like Austria and the Netherlands, after originally showing reluctance towards the idea of sharing debt to finance the continent’s recovery.

One Austrian MEP, Lukas Mandl told Euronews that the EU funds must be spent prudently.

"Let me be very frank - it is taxpayers' money. Somebody has worked hard for that money. It was the citizens of Europe and that is why for each and every case we are obliged to take care as much as we can," Mandl explained.

The effective use of this money by Italy is seen as crucial not only for the country, but also for the credibility of the European project.