EU executive warns COVID economic revival plans too poor to fly - sources

FILE PHOTO: A view of the market square amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Meissen, Germany, January 15, 2021. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's executive has warned this month that national plans so far for spending a record 1.8 trillion euros from the bloc's joint coffers to revive economies mauled by the COVID-19 pandemic were too poor to fly, sources told Reuters.

The chilling assessment, shared with EU envoys at a Jan.7, closed-door meeting the content of which was described to Reuters by three diplomatic sources, highlights the uphill battle the 27-nation bloc faces in spending so much money.

Red tape, political wrangling and a track record of fraud risk undermining the goal of ensuring equal economic recovery to put EU countries on a more even footing after the pandemic that has exacerbated the wealth gap across the bloc.

"The plans lack structural reforms, strategic vision, concrete targets, and cost-effectiveness. A lot of work remains to be done," said one Brussels diplomat, relaying criticism by the European Commission at the meeting.

A second diplomat said the Commission stressed some plans were not concrete enough and lacked measurable targets.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska)

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