ComuniqEU / CDE – On Wednesday, Parliament approved the Recovery and Resilience Facility, designed to help EU countries tackle the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The regulation on the objectives, financing and rules for accessing the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) was adopted with 582 votes in favour, 40 against and 69 abstentions. The RRF is the biggest building block of the €750 billion Next Generation EU recovery package.
€672.5 billion in grants and loans will be available to finance national measures designed to alleviate the economic and social consequences of the pandemic. Related projects that began on or after 1 February 2020 can be financed by the RRF, too. The funding will be available for three years and EU governments can request up to 13% pre-financing for their recovery and resilience plans.
To be eligible for financing, national recovery and resilience plans must focus on key EU policy areas – the green transition including biodiversity, digital transformation, economic cohesion and competitiveness, and social and territorial cohesion. Those that focus on how institutions react to crisis and supporting them to prepare for it, as well as policies for children and youth, including education and skills, are also eligible for financing.
Each plan has to dedicate at least 37% of its budget to climate and at least 20% to digital actions. They should have a lasting impact in both social and economic terms, include comprehensive reforms and a robust investment package, and must not significantly harm environmental objectives.
The regulation also stipulates that only member states committed to respecting the rule of law and the European Union’s fundamental values can receive money from the RRF.
To discuss the state of the EU recovery and how the targets and milestones have been implemented by member states, the European Commission, which is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the RRF, may be asked to appear before Parliament’s relevant committees every two months. The Commission will also make an integrated information and monitoring system available to the member states to provide comparable information on how funds are being used.
The EU Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni commented on the approval of the mechanism for recovery and resilience of the Recovery fund by the European Parliament as a historic step, a unique opportunity to be seized to change our economies for the good of all European citizens.”
Commenting about the approval, Commissioner Gentiloni said that the vote is an important step towards the beginning of the implementation of the fund in the coming month. “We did something unthinkable just a year ago: the creation of an instrument based on common debt to achieve shared goals. This was the result of a lot of work by the Commission which worked intensely with governments to draft their national plans.” In his comments, Gentiloni added that now there is the need to intensify all efforts to make sure that one take this unique opportunity to change EU economies for the good of all citizens.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen commented that thanks to this approval, Europe will invest in making Europe greener, more digital, more resilient, for the benefit of all in the long term.
The EU Parliament president David Sassoli said that “now the ball has passed in the court of the member states so they can kick off the Next Generation EU. We expect parliaments to accelerate the ratification of the increase in the Union’s own resources, essential for issuing bonds and financing the recovery”. “There is no time to waste and any delay would cause enormous damage to citizens and businesses”, added Sassoli.
Siegfried MUREŞAN one of the lead MEPs involved in the negotiations said during the debate on Tuesday: “Today’s vote means that money will go to people and regions affected by the pandemic, that support is coming to fight this crisis and to build our strength to overcome future challenges. The RRF will help to modernise our economies and to make them cleaner and greener. We have set the rules on how to spend the money but left them flexible enough to meet the different needs of member states. Finally, this money must not be used for ordinary budgetary expenditures but for investment and reforms.”
Eider GARDIAZABAL RUBIAL, one of the lead negotiators said: “The RRF is the correct response to the impact of the virus. It has two aims: in the short-term, to recover by supporting gross national income (GNI), investments and households. In the long-term, this money is going to bring about change and progress to meet our digital and climate goals. We will ensure that the measures will alleviate poverty and unemployment, and will take into account the gender dimension of this crisis. Our health systems will also become more resilient”.
Dragoș PÎSLARU, one of the lead MEPs involved, said: “Europe’s destiny is in our hands. We have a duty to deliver recovery and resilience to our youth and children, who will be at the centre of the recovery. One of the RRF’s six pillars is dedicated especially to them, which means investing in education, reforming with them in mind and doing our bit for youth to help them get the skills they will need. We do not want the next generation to be a lockdown generation”.