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The European Union will fast-track final stage approval of national recovery plans required to unlock hundreds of billions of euros of Covid-19 emergency aid, with the Portuguese holders of the EU's rotating presidency streamlining procedures to ensure countries which need the cash most receive disbursements by July, EU sources told MNI.

Scrutiny of the plans by the European Council, consisting of member states, will be largely delegated to officials on the Economic and Finance Committee, allowing finance ministers to rubber-stamp them after the European Commission grants preliminary approvals starting this week. This means ministers will not require a special ECOFIN meeting to deal with the plans, and approval by member states could take less than the four weeks originally envisioned, officials said.

"There is a strong willingness by the Portuguese presidency to get a first batch of plans approved by the end of its presidency on June 30," one EU source said. "I would expect them to push very hard for something to happen by the end of the month."

BOND SALES UNDERWAY

While the Commission's two-month vetting period prompted changes to some plans, including Italy's, which required more detail on control of spending, that process is largely concluded. Member states will now wave through the plans on how to spend individual countries' share of the EUR750 billion NextGenerationEU aid package, another official said, dismissing the likelihood that serious reservations will be expressed.

The Commission has now started raising money on the bond market to pay for NextGenerationEU, with an order book of over EUR107 billion on Tuesday morning for its inaugural issuance.