Cyprus securing approval of €1.2 bln in European Union funding to restart its covid-stricken economy was hailed as a ‘milestone’ by visiting EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen Thursday.
She is on the Mediterranean island to officially present the bloc’s approval of Cyprus reforms under the EU’s €800 bln Recovery and Resilience Plan to combat the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic across the continent.
“Today, I am very happy to announce that the European Commission has given its green light to Cyprus’ recovery and resilience plan,” said von der Leyen during a presentation at the University of Cyprus campus Thursday.
“It is a brilliant result; it will spur growth, modernise and transform Cyprus,” she said after presenting President Nicos Anastasiades with the approval.
The EU’s executive approved on Thursday Cyprus’ plan to spend €1.2 bln worth of special funds to restart economic growth stunted by the pandemic.
The aid, which Cyprus won’t have to pay back, is part of the EU’s unprecedented economic stimulus package to be distributed among the 27 member states.
Nicosia proposes to use 41% of allocated funds to support climate objectives, including green taxation, the liberalisation of the electricity market and facilitating energy-efficient buildings.
The plan also includes promoting faster broadband, support early childhood education, digital upskilling, and access to public healthcare.
Another 18 million euro will go toward equipment in fighting natural disasters, a move that von der Leyen commended after visiting ground zero on Wednesday of Cyprus’ worst-ever wildfire that killed four over the weekend.
Von der Leyen called the approval an “important milestone” for disbursement of the €1.2 bln.
She said the European Council should rubber-stamp the deal in the next four weeks.
The Council’s approval of the plan would allow the disbursement of €157 mln to Cyprus in pre- financing.
“This by no means the end of the journey, now its implementation, implementation, implementation,” said von der Leyen.
The Commission President said the EU’s ‘Next Generation’ recovery plan is an “exceptional response, to an exceptional crisis”.
“We have to deliver now, to show that we are worth the trust invested in us and prove we can become stronger out of the crisis.”
The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the satisfactory fulfilment of the milestones and targets outlined in the Cyprus plan.