Spain defends use of EU aid as transparent after MEP’s doubts

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Spain defended its management of billions of euros of European pandemic recovery funds as transparent, rejecting allegations of opacity by the chair of the European Parliament’s budget control committee who is due in Madrid next week.

In a joint letter, Spain’s economy and budget ministers said its meeting of dozens of milestones under the aid programme so far had been duly audited by the European Commission and the funds were already contributing to boosting economic growth.

The letter addressed to the chair, German conservative MEP Monika Hohlmeier, said Spain was using the funds with “transparency and accountability”.

It also cited an assessment by the European Court of Auditors of the first disbursement, which Madrid says “reflects the commitment to rigour and control”.

Hohlmeier, who has publicly questioned in hearings and in the media how the southern European country is using the money, criticising both Spain and the European Commission for opacity, will lead a mission to Spain next week. She did not reply to a Reuters request for comment.

Spain, one of the main recipients of the EU recovery funds, has received 31 billion euros so far out of around 140 billion euros ($150 billion) total it is due to get over three years in grants and loans.

Latest official figures show at least 23.3 billion euros have been deployed as of January.

Spanish regions, who under Spain’s highly decentralised administration model are in charge of spending in areas like health and education, have received more than 20 billion euros, with around 5 billion euros to be used to create low-emissions areas in city centers, the letter said.

Last year, Spain brought onstream a unified information-sharing audit mechanism after missing several deadlines that raised doubts about transparency from businesses and lawmakers.

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