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European Commission approves recovery plans for Portugal, Spain and Greece

Written by Eric Apim on Thursday, June 17th 2021 à 17:45 | Read 362 times

The European Commission takes a step forward in the NextGenerationEU program (photo: C.Garcia)
The European Commission takes a step forward in the NextGenerationEU program (photo: C.Garcia)
EU. The European Commission approved on Wednesday, June 16, 2021, the plans for the recovery and resilience of Portugal, Spain and Greece. A necessary step to benefit from European manna and emerge stronger from the Covid-19 pandemic.

These are the first three to be validated as part of the European plan called NextGenerationEU, which was adopted in November 2020 within the multiannual financial framework (€750 billion over the period 2021 to 2027) by the European Parliament and the European Council on the proposal of the European Commission.

The Portuguese plan, the first of the twenty-seven Member States to be submitted to the European Commission for approval in April 2021, includes a budget of €16.64 billion. It includes 36 reforms and 77 investments in the areas of resilience (€11.125 billion), climate transition (€3.059 billion) and digital transition (€2.46 billion). Of the €13.9 billion in planned subsidies, 37% is for the green transition (47% allocated to climate transition objectives). 2.7 bn€ of loans under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) over the period 2021-2026, will complement this financing.

"The reforms and investments it contains will allow Portugal to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis stronger, more resilient and better prepared for the future. In short, it will help build a better future for the Portuguese people. We will stand by Portugal every step of the way. Your success will be our success. A European success story," commented Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.

Spain devotes 40% of its plan to climate targets

The Spanish plan includes €69.5 billion in RRF grants alone. It devotes 40% of its total budget to measures supporting climate objectives. These are mainly the promotion of sustainable mobility in urban areas and over long distances, increasing the energy efficiency of buildings, decarbonizing industry, reducing energy dependency, deploying new technologies for green hydrogen and renewable energy.
The Spanish document also includes measures to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change by preserving coastal areas, ecosystems and biodiversity and to promote the circular economy by improving water and waste management.

28% of the budget will concern the digital transition (including a specific program for the digitisation of SMEs).
According to Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commission Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for people, this plan "puts a timely focus on job creation and the next generation, with measures to tackle youth unemployment, strengthen the supply of useful skills in the labour market and improve the business environment and public administration." He continued, "It will put in place large-scale investments to help citizens, businesses and public administration embrace the digital and ecological transitions. I also congratulate Spain for proposing projects in all areas of common European interest, such as clean energy, sustainable transport or digital connectivity. We will now work with the Spanish authorities to ensure that the plan is fully implemented."

Greece launches national reforestation programme

The Greek plan focuses on virtually the same priorities as its neighbour with €17.8bn in grants and €12.7bn in loans under the RRF. 38% of its overall budget concerns measures supporting climate objectives: investments in the modernisation of the electricity grid, strengthening the support scheme for producers of renewable energy sources and supporting investments in renovations to improve energy efficiency. Athens also wants to promote the development of local urban plans which focus on building the resilience of urban areas to climate change. The government is also launching a national reforestation programme as well as a comprehensive strategy to strengthen civil protection and disaster management systems covering, among other things, investments in flood control.

"Forty years after Greece joined the Community, we are opening a new chapter in the country's long European history," says Paolo Gentiloni, European Commissioner for Economic Affairs. According to him, "Greece will benefit from more than €30 billion of assistance through NextGenerationEU, funding that will support important investments and wide-ranging reforms over the next five years. It is an ambitious plan that will benefit all regions of Greece and all segments of Greek society. Greece has come a long way since the last crisis, as has the European Union: NextGenerationEU is a partnership we will pursue together."

672.5 billion in support

The RRF, the core instrument of NextGenerationEU, plans to provide up to €672.5bn to support investment and reform across the EU.

"The Council now has, in principle, four weeks to adopt the Commission's proposal. The approval of the plan by the Council would allow for a pre-financing payment of €2.2 billion to Portugal, representing 13% of the total amount allocated to this country. The Commission will authorize further disbursements when Portugal satisfactorily meets the milestones and targets set out in the Council's implementing decision, reflecting the progress made in implementing investments and reforms," said a European Commission press release issued on Thursday, 17 June 2021.

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