On Friday, Parliament’s negotiators agreed with Council on the instrument designed to help EU countries tackle the effects and consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The text, agreed on Friday by negotiators from Budgets and Economic and Monetary Affairs committees with the Council, lays down the objectives, financing and rules for accessing the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) funding. With the agreement on RRF, the last and biggest building block of the Next Generation EU has been put in place.
Eligibility to receive funding
Negotiators agreed that national recovery and resilience plans would be eligible for financing if they focus on six policy areas of European relevance – the green transition including biodiversity, digital transformation, economic cohesion and competitiveness, social and territorial cohesion, institutional crisis-reaction and crisis preparedness, as well as policies for the next generation, children and youth, including education and skills. Finally, the RRF will only be made available to member states committed to respecting the rule of law and the European Union’s fundamental values.
Each plan will contribute at least 37% of its budget to climate and at least 20% to digital actions. According to the deal, the plans should have a lasting impact on EU countries in both social and economic terms and provide for comprehensive reform and a robust investment package. Furthermore, measures to implement reforms and investments projects included in RRF plans cannot significantly harm environmental objectives.
Availability of funding
The amount of €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, from 1 February 2020 onwards. The funding will be available for three years and EU governments can request up to 13% pre-financing for their recovery and resilience plans.
Payments of financial contributions to member states will be made by 31 December 2026.
Recovery and Resilience Dialogue
Every two months, the Commission (responsible for monitoring the implementation of the RRF) may be invited by EP committees to discuss the state of the EU recovery and how the targets and milestones have been implemented by the member states. The Commission will take EP opinions, including EP resolutions, into account. To facilitate this discussion, the Commission will transmit the member states’ plans to Parliament and Council at the same time.
To provide comparable information on how funds are being used and allow their use to be properly checked, the Commission will make an integrated information and monitoring system available to the member states .
Siegfried MUREŞAN (EPP, RO), one of the lead MEPs said: Since the COVID-19 crisis began, Parliament has acted constructively and without delay so that help reaches EU citizens as soon as possible. The Recovery and Resilience Facility agreed today is the first and most important part of the EU Recovery Package in response to the crisis caused by coronavirus. No one will be left behind. €672.5 billion will be available to people, enterprises and member states affected by the pandemic. Now we can say that we managed to deliver to our citizens.”
Eider GARDIAZABAL RUBIAL (S&D, ES), one of the lead negotiators said: “The RRF is a double win; in the short term, it will mitigate the social impact of the COVID-19 crisis. In the long term, it will allow us to take a major step towards a green and digital transition. With this agreement, we have finally achieved one of the EP’s long-standing demands!”
Dragoș PÎSLARU (Renew, RO), one of the lead MEPs involved, said: “We believe we will only recover together as a Union. So we insisted EU recovery money must go to EU priorities. Among those are policies for the next generation. That means investing in education, reforming with our children in mind and doing our bit for youth to help them get the skills they’ll need. We don’t want the next generation to be a lockdown generation. The COVID-19 crisis has taken its toll. This Facility must bring them hope.”
The two committees must now approve the agreement, before putting it to a plenary vote. The Council must also approve the deal.