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Recovery and Resilience Facility: Commission adopts ‘do no significant harm' technical guidance to protect the environment

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The European Commission has presented its guidance on the implementation of ‘do no significant harm' in the context of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The RRF, the key instrument at the heart of NextGenerationEU, will make €672.5 billion in loans and grants available to support reforms and investments in member states. This guidance aims to support member states in ensuring that all investments and reforms they propose to be financed by the RRF do no significant harm to the EU's environmental objectives, within the meaning set out in the Taxonomy Regulation.

It outlines key principles and a two-step methodology for the assessment of ‘do no significant harm' in the context of the RRF as a way to facilitate the work of member states in the preparation of their recovery and resilience plans. Respecting the ‘do no significant harm' principle is a precondition for the endorsement of the plans by the Commission and the Council that is set in the RRF Regulation. Commission staff are working closely with member states' authorities to ensure that this will be a smooth and swift process, leading up to the presentation of the plans. Facilitating the green transition is a key objective of the RRF.

The ‘do no significant harm' provisions are a crucial tool for this alongside the requirement that a minimum of 37% of expenditure on investments and reforms contained in each national recovery and resilience plan should support climate objectives. The presentation of this guidance follows the European Parliament's approval of Recovery and Resilience Facility earlier this week. President Ursula von der Leyen participated in a signature ceremony and press conference this morning alongside European Parliament President David Sassoli and Prime Minister António Costa for the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU to mark the approval by the European Parliament and the Council of the RRF Regulation.

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Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “I would like to congratulate the Council and the Parliament for the final adoption now of the regulation. This is indeed a very historic moment. We are fighting this pandemic and the severe health crisis with the vaccines. The vaccines are our ally and hope. But we should never forget the second enormous crisis we have, this is the economic crisis. And there, our ally and our hope is NextGenerationEU. €750bn to support our citizens to keep their jobs, to support companies to stay in business, and to support communities to maintain their social fabric. No member state on its own would have been able to master this economic crisis just on its own and alone.”

The full statement of President Ursula von der Leyen is available here. The guidance and accompanying annexes are available online.

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European Commission

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €231 million in pre-financing to Slovenia

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The European Commission has disbursed €231 million to Slovenia in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's grant allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €2.5 billion in total, consisting of €1.8bn in grants and €705m in loans, over the lifetime of its plan. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80 billion in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU.

The RRF is at the heart of NextGenerationEU which will provide €800bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states. The Slovenian plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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Cyprus

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €157 million in pre-financing to Cyprus

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The European Commission has disbursed €157 million to Cyprus in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's financial allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €1.2 billion in total over the lifetime of its plan, with €1 billion provided in grants and €200m in loans. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80bn in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU. Part of NextGenerationEU, the RRF will provide €723.8bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states.

The Cypriot plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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Belgium

EU Cohesion policy: Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy receive €373 million to support health and social services, SMEs and social inclusion

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The Commission has granted €373 million to five European Social Fund (ESF) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) operational programmes (OPs) in Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy to help the countries with coronavirus emergency response and repair in the framework of REACT-EU. In Belgium, the modification of the Wallonia OP will make available an additional €64.8m for the acquisition of medical equipment for health services and innovation.

The funds will support small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in developing e-commerce, cybersecurity, websites and online stores, as well as the regional green economy through energy efficiency, protection of the environment, development of smart cities and low-carbon public infrastructures. In Germany, in the Federal State of Hessen, €55.4m will support health-related research infrastructure, diagnostic capacity and innovation in universities and other research institutions as well as research, development and innovation investments in the fields of climate and sustainable development. This amendment will also provide support to SMEs and funds for start-ups through an investment fund.

In Sachsen-Anhalt, €75.7m will facilitate cooperation of SMEs and institutions in research, development and innovation, and provide investments and working capital for micro-enterprises affected by the coronavirus crisis. Moreover, the funds will allow investments in the energy efficiency of enterprises, support digital innovation in SMEs and acquiring digital equipment for schools and cultural institutions. In Italy, the national OP ‘Social Inclusion' will receive €90m to promote the social integration of people experiencing severe material deprivation, homelessness or extreme marginalisation, through ‘Housing First' services that combine the provision of immediate housing with enabling social and employment services.

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In Spain, €87m will be added to the ESF OP for Castilla y León to support the self-employed and workers who had their contracts suspended or reduced due to the crisis. The money will also help hard-hit companies avoid layoffs, especially in the tourism sector. Finally, the funds are needed to allow essential social services to continue in a safe way and to ensure educational continuity throughout the pandemic by hiring additional staff.

REACT-EU is part of NextGenerationEU and provides €50.6bn additional funding (in current prices) to Cohesion policy programmes over the course of 2021 and 2022. Measures focus on supporting labour market resilience, jobs, SMEs and low-income families, as well as setting future-proof foundations for the green and digital transitions and a sustainable socio-economic recovery.

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