The EU’s economy commissioner says that the bloc’s economic recovery is on track, but also warns of the dangers of the fourth wave of COVID-19 and new restrictions across member states.
Yet, Paolo Gentiloni also insists that the worst is behind us.
“We should not underestimate the rise of the infections, but we should not think that the economic impact of these new infections could be the same or comparable to the one we had last winter because we have vaccines and we have a different relationship now between the economy and the pandemic,” he told Euronews.
At the same time, the European Commission warned countries with high debt to focus on growth and be wise when it comes to public spending.
Greece, Italy, Spain, and France are all included in this group of highly indebted member states.
Gentiloni says they should be careful not to become complacent.
“Yes we have growth, but we shouldn’t increase our current expenditure too much,” he said.
“We sent a signal. We are approving all budget proposals, we are not asking for specific changes as we did in previous periods, we are signalling the problem.”
“But this signal shouldn’t be misinterpreted. We are not asking to tighten too soon, to consolidate too soon, to go back to austerity,” he explains.
The warnings come as the European Commission is carrying out a review of the bloc’s spending rules — a debate that risks reviving old divisions between the north and the south of the continent.
The EU’s usually strict fiscal rule book has been suspended since the pandemic began, allowing countries to spend more freely, but this is expected to change in 2023.