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NextGenerationEU: European Commission endorses Greece's €30.5 billion recovery and resilience plan

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The European Commission has today (17 June) adopted a positive assessment of Greece's recovery and resilience plan. This is an important step towards disbursing €17.8 billion in grants and €12.7bn in loans under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) over the period 2021-2026. This financing will support the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Greece's recovery and resilience plan. It will play a key role in enabling Greece emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic. The RRF – at the heart of NextGenerationEU – will provide up to €672.5bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across the EU.

An Economy that Works for People Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said: “Greece's recovery plan will help it emerge stronger from the pandemic and equip the economy for a greener and more digital future. The measures include support for energy efficient renovations and clean urban transport, as well as a focus on improving the population's digital skills, both in terms of education and in terms of reskilling and upskilling the workforce. We welcome Greece's ambition to invigorate private investment and reform labour market policies, digitalise the public administration and businesses, all of which will be key for the modernisation of the Greek economy. Taken together, the plan provides a unique opportunity for Greece to equip its economy and people for the future and put the country on a more sustainable growth path. We stand ready to support the Greek authorities to fully implement these reforms and investments.”

The Greek plan forms part of an unprecedented co-ordinated EU response to the COVID-19 crisis, to address common European challenges by embracing the green and digital transitions, to strengthen economic and social resilience and the cohesion of the Single Market. The Commission assessed Greece's plan based on the criteria set out in the RRF Regulation. The Commission's analysis considered, whether the investments and reforms set out in Greece's plan support the green and digital transitions; contribute to effectively addressing challenges identified in the European Semester; and strengthen its growth potential, job creation and economic and social resilience.

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Securing Greece's green and digital transitions

The Commission's assessment of the plan finds that it devotes 38% of Greece's total allocation to measures that support climate objectives. This includes investments in upgrading the electricity network, strengthening the support scheme for producers of renewable energy sources. Furthermore, the plan supports investments in energy efficient renovations and the development of local urban plans with a focus on strengthening climate resilience of urban areas. Other measures include support for a national reforestation programme and a comprehensive strategy to strengthen the civil protection and disaster management systems that covers, amongst others, investment in flood mitigation. The Commission's assessment of the plan finds that it devotes 23% of Greece's total allocation to the digital transition.

This is in excess of the minimum of 20% required by the RRF Regulation. Measures to support Greece's digital transition include investments in digital infrastructure such 5G and fibre networks, measures to support the digital transition of the public administration and investments and reforms to support the digitalisation of businesses with a particular focus on small and medium sized enterprises. The plan also includes measures to improve digital skills at all levels, as part of the education system and through dedicated trainings for all age groups. Reinforcing Greece's economic and social resilience The Commission considers that Greece's plan effectively addresses all or a significant subset of the economic and social challenges outlined in the country-specific recommendations addressed to Greece by the Council in the European Semester in 2019 and in 2020. It includes measures that contribute to economic growth and increase employment through improving productivity.

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Commission President President Ursula von der Leyen said: “I am delighted to present the European Commission's positive assessment of Greece's €30.5 billion recovery and resilience plan. The plan is ambitious and will help build a better future for the Greek people. It can reshape Greece for decades ahead. We need to make the best out of it, for the next generations. We will stand with you every step of the way.”

The plan provides for the implementation of a comprehensive national public health programme that will support primary, secondary and tertiary prevention and strengthen primary care, making the economy more open, improving public administration and making the judicial system more efficient. Alongside the substantial increase in public investment, the Plan makes full use of the Recovery and Resilience Facility loans to provide funding to companies and increase the level of private investment. The Plan builds on and complements key ongoing structural reforms to improve the broader functioning of the economy and which are currently monitored under the enhanced surveillance framework. The plan represents a comprehensive and adequately balanced response to Greece's economic and social situation, thereby contributing appropriately to all six pillars of the RRF Regulation.

Supporting flagship investment and reform projects

The Greek plan proposes projects in all seven European flagship areas. These are specific investment projects which address issues that are common to all member states in areas that create jobs and growth and are needed for the twin transition. For instance, Greece has proposed €2.3bn to reform the education, training and life-long learning system combined with investments in upskilling and reskilling programmes that cover the entire labour force. These measures aim to equip people with high quality and labour market relevant skills, including skills related to the green and digital transitions. The assessment also finds that none of the measures included in the plan significantly harm the environment, in line with the requirements laid out in the RRF Regulation.

The controls systems put in place by Greece are considered adequate to protect the financial interests of the Union. The plan provides sufficient details on how national authorities will prevent, detect and correct instances of conflict of interest, corruption and fraud relating to the use of funds.

Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said: “Forty years since Greece joined the Community we are opening a new chapter in the country's long European story. Greece stands to benefit from more than €30bn in support through NextGenerationEU, financing that will underpin major investments and far-reaching reforms over the next five years. This is an ambitious plan that stands to benefit every part of Greece and every segment of Greek society. Greece has come a long way since the last crisis and so has the European Union: NextGenerationEU is a partnership that will we will take forward together.”

Next steps

The Commission has today adopted a proposal for a Council Implementing Decision to provide €17.8bn in grants and €12.7bn in loans to Greece under the RRF. The Council will now have, as a rule, four weeks to adopt the Commission's proposal. The Council's approval of the plan would allow for the disbursement of €4bn to Greece in prefinancing. This represents 13% of the total allocated amount for Greece. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the satisfactory fulfilment of the milestones and targets outlined in the Council Implementing Decision, reflecting progress on the implementation of the investments and reforms.

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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