EU Plans Parliament Dialog on Spain, Portugal Structural Funds

The European Commission said it will hold a dialog with the European Parliament in September on the potential suspension of structural funds for Spain and Portugal.

The two countries last week escaped penalties from European Union authorities for persistently missing their budget targets. But they still face potential suspension of structural funds under the EU’s regional development program.

“First of all, we would like to have a structural dialog with the European Parliament. That will take place in September,” Annika Breidthardt, EU spokeswoman for economic policy, told reporters in Brussels on Monday. “Then a decision will be taken on the structural funds.”

The Brussels-based commission on Wednesday decided not to impose sanctions on the two countries because of the challenging economic environment they both face, Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said. As the commission tries to defend the credibility of the EU’s fiscal rules, Moscovici said officials had taken into account the sacrifices made by taxpayers in Spain and Portugal since their international bailouts during the financial crisis.

On the structural funds, “there is a regulation which outlines exactly how much of the funds could be suspended,” Breidthardt said. “That is outlined in the rules and obviously we will stick to those rules when we come back to the decision later in the year.”

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