FILE PHOTO: Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni waits to receive Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at Palazzo Chigi in Rome, Italy January 10, 2023. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo

By Giuseppe Fonte

ROME, March 7 (Reuters) – Italy has met the political conditions to release a further 19 billion euros ($20.25 billion) in post-pandemic funds from the European Union in May, said on Tuesday the Minister of Economy Giancarlo Giorgetti.

So far, the government has obtained almost 67,000 million euros of the approximately 200,000 million corresponding to it until 2026.

Italy is the biggest beneficiary of the EU’s post-crisis recovery fund, and meeting the so-called “targets and milestones” of its recovery plan agreed with Brussels is one of the main challenges for the government of Georgia’s newly elected right. Meloni.

“So far we have achieved all the targets agreed with the European Commission,” Giorgetti said during a parliamentary appearance.

“At the moment the EU is assessing a third payment worth €19,000 million which we expect to receive in May,” he said.

The money is tied to goals and milestones achieved in the second half of last year and was originally due for approval at the end of February, according to the timetable set by the Commission.

Italy can opt for an additional 34 billion euros in 2023, divided into two tranches, as long as it can meet the 96 targets set for this year.

Giorgetti said Italy shares its difficulties in meeting deadlines with other recipients of the Recovery Fund.

To gain flexibility, Rome is in talks with Brussels to replace some projects in its initial recovery plan, which it does not believe it can complete by 2026, government officials have previously said.

These would be replaced by less ambitious programs that can be completed on time, while the original programs could be funded by separate European Union funds that can be spent until 2029, the sources said.

This way, the government could have up to three more years to complete its overall investment program without formally missing the 2026 deadline.

(1 dollar = 0.9384 euro)

(Editing by Alvise Armellini, Gavin Jones and Tomasz Janowski, Spanish editing by Tomás Cobos)

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