No, it won’t be raining money

No, it won’t be raining money

The funds allocated to Greece from the European Recovery Fund, 32 billion euros, together with the €20 billion it can get from the European structural and investment funds, provide our country with a historically unique opportunity, not just to recover but to move into a higher orbit.

This is a chance that would be unheard of just a few short months ago. It happened because the European Union was faced with a precipice because of the pandemic and its repercussions. “Solidarity or dissolution,” said the Italians. And the Merkel-Macron duo replied, “Solidarity.” That €32+20 billion came like manna from heaven.

Wrong. It did not come. We haven’t won €52 billion as one might the lottery. What we won is the opportunity to absorb 32 billion in three years, 2021-23, and another 20 billion in seven years, 2021-27.

Look at our current “efficiency.” We have difficulty absorbing €3 billion in EU funds annually. If we can make it now, good. If not, our European partners will say, “We offered you the money but you couldn’t absorb it, so maybe another time, thanks and bye.” So, instead of prancing around happily, as if we had already pocketed the €52 billion (some say €70 billion, but their calculations are distinctly unorthodox), it would be prudent to roll up our sleeves and try to get the money.

It will be difficult. The European institutions will be demanding taskmasters. Other member-states can also monitor.

First, we should decide which goals we want to pursue: Do we change our production model radically or subsidize the walking dead? Second, will we finally implement long-needed reforms or just talk the subject to death?

All this loud propaganda about the €70 billion we were given, with no mention of the demanding conditions, adds obstacles. Those affected by the crisis hear “There’s money around,” just like the infamous utterance by then-prime ministerial candidate George Papandreou, just months before the financial crisis rained down on him. Come fall, everyone is going to start demanding something. Businessmen, too: Why invest their own money when there’s public money available? Except there isn’t.

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