The former Greek finance minister claimed the EU Commission President is touring the EU to sell her “insignificant” Recovery Fund, as Mrs von der Leyen travels across the bloc to approve member states’ plans. Mr Varoufakis argued a fiscal union would be the necessary tool to ensure the economic recovery of member states – something the EU Commission is failing to consider.
He said: “Mrs von der Leyen, after an EU vaccination procurement fiasco that should have led to her dismissal, is now touring EU capitals ‘selling’ the macro-economically insignificant Recovery Fund with which Berlin bought Paris’ acquiescence to NOT moving toward the necessary fiscal union.”
The Commission chief travelled to Portugal on Wednesday to rubber stamp the country’s recovery plan.
Mrs von der Leyen said an initial disbursement from the bloc’s COVID-19 recovery fund should arrive in July.
Mrs von der Leyen told reporters after meeting Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa in Lisbon: “The plan clearly meets the demanding criteria we have jointly established.
“There is no doubt that it will deeply transform Portugal’s economy.”
Under the scheme, which is yet to be approved by the Council of the European Union in a maximum of four weeks’ time, Portugal will get 13.9 billion euros in grants and 2.7 billion euros in loans until 2026.
Mr Costa said: “We know, dear Ursula, that the hard work begins now.
“We want to launch many of these instruments already in coming days.”
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The plan also envisages dozens of investment projects in health, social housing and infrastructure.
The government has predicted economic growth of 4 percent this year, while the central bank earlier on Wednesday raised its growth forecast to 4.8 percent from 3.9 percent predicted in March, expecting a sharp increase in investment already benefiting from the European recovery fund.
Still, a majority of companies surveyed by Portugal’s Business Confederation (CIP) in early June were sceptical that the funds would have much impact on their ability to recover from the crisis, with just 14 percent saying it would be significant or very significant.
Many are still saddled with debt from loans issued by the government earlier in the pandemic, with bankruptcies expected to increase as repayment deadlines draw closer.
Spain was the second EU country to get the approval of the Commission on Wednesday, after Mrs von der Leyen travelled to Madrid.
As one of the main beneficiaries of a 750 billion euro European Union recovery scheme, Spain will get 69.5 billion euros in grants until 2026 to help revive its tourism-dependent economy, which has been hit hard by the crisis.
Madrid will get the first 9 billion euros in pre-financing once EU finance ministers sign off on the plan in July.
“This is a historic day for Spain… it means a new understanding of Europe,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told reporters, standing next to the Commission President, who called the plan “ambitious and far-sighted”.
“The plan was designed here in Spain and will promote growth here in Spain,” she said.