Money from the recovery package should be invested, not just spent

Leading representatives of central European countries participated in a discussion on the EU economic reboot on the first day of the GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum 2021 conference.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (l) and Slovak PM Eduard Heger (r) during the discussion at GLOBSEC.Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (l) and Slovak PM Eduard Heger (r) during the discussion at GLOBSEC. (Source: TASR)

Although the Covid-19 recovery package agreed to in 2020 is a good tool to aid an economic reboot, it is necessary to say that it is not a permanent measure and the emphasis lies in structural reforms, said Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz during a discussion at the GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum 2021 on June 15.

Kurz would prefer if there were more discussion on where and how we invest the funds rather than how much to invest. The focus should be on green transition and digitisation, which both make up about 90 percent of Austria’s plan.

His Slovak counterpart Eduard Heger appreciated the design of the recovery package, rooted in reforms that bring in public finance. He praised the release mechanism for recovery funds, which depends on reaching milestones set up by individual countries.

“It is important to not spend money but invest it,” Heger said.

Kurz agreed that structural reforms are crucial and EU member states should not fear more control in that regard.

Solidarity and economic growth

Not only recovery, but also deep and structural changes are necessary after pandemic Read more 

The panel shared the vision and importance of solidarity of the EU. While Heger highlighted the importance of foreign policy and helping countries outside the EU, Kurz stressed that the basis for solidarity, public investments and higher social standards is competitiveness and economic growth.

“Solidarity is only possible if all 27 member states on their own and united are successful,” Kurz said.

All panelists agreed that solidarity and economic growth go hand in hand.

Focus on vaccination campaign

Karel Havlíček, the deputy PM of the Czech Republic, stressed the importance of small and medium enterprises for central Europe, explaining that his country set up new investing priorities in research and development as well publishing its innovation strategy.

The focus is on becoming an innovative country with long-term growth. Support from the EU is needed to reduce emissions, as both the heating and electricity sectors are heavily dependent on coal, which represents a huge challenge.

The best support for our economies at the moment is to continue with a strong vaccination campaign, which will mean the ultimate defeat of the pandemic. Although the pandemic hit all member states hard and resulted in the loss of lives and jobs, we are in a much better position to deal with future waves and to keep moving forward and improving the quality of life in Europe, Havlíček continued.

“We are not just restarting the economy, but also society,” he stressed.

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