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Post-COVID Recovery Fund: centralisation and unfair distribution of resources risk harming cohesion in Europe  

​​A new CoR-CEMR consultation shows that the territorial allocation of funds from the Recovery and Resilience Facility is widely perceived as unbalanced on the ground.

On the eve of a crucial meeting of European heads of state and government focused on competitiveness, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) unveil the results of their third joint survey on the implementation of the post-pandemic Recovery and Resilience Facility​ (RFF), which is worth €648 billion. 

While the implementation of the RRF is at the halfway point, regions and cities still feel left aside from National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs). A new consultation conducted jointly by CoR and CCRE-CEMR confirms the highly centralised management of the RRF by Member States.

Key findings

  • The territorial allocation of RRF funds is broadly perceived as unfair. Nearly half of respondents rate territorial fairness as "poor or very poor" while only a few see it as "good or very good". And the degree of ownership at local and regional level is also unsatisfactory with significantly more respondents seeing it as "poor or very poor" than "good or very good".
  • The green and digital transitions stand out as the two objectives supported effectively by the NRRPs, according to respondents in the consultation.
  • Conversely, fully one third of respondents state that NRRPs do "not at all" effectively contribute to enhancing territorial cohesion, despite this being the legal basis and general objective of the RRF.
  • The involvement of local and regional authorities remains inadequately weak in the various phases of preparation, implementation or monitoring of NRRPs. The specific provisions of REPowerEU to improve the involvement of LRAs do not seem to have yielded concrete results.
  • Almost all respondents encounter barriers to their involvement in the NRRP. The main barrier identified is the national government providing an inappropriate framework for involvement.
  • The share of respondents who consider limited capacity or expertise within their region or city to be a barrier is significantly higher than in the previous consultation. This is likely linked to the higher-than-expected administrative burden of the RRF.
  • Potential overlaps and lack of coordination with cohesion funds remains the highest risk perceived by local and regional governments in the implementation of the RRF.
  • While the overall impact of projects funded by the RRF is rated positively by respondents, they are rather divided regarding its synergies with other funds, its additionality and flexibility.

Complete findings of the consultation.

Quotes

Christophe Rouillon (FR/PES), Mayor of Coulaines and CoR's rapporteur on the Mid-term evaluation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility, said: "The results of the joint consultation underscore that the RRF is not the silver bullet it was claimed to be. The RRF was the appropriate response in a multi-crises context and will probably have had a positive macroeconomic impact. However, the centralisation it brought about as well as the deficiencies of the performance-based mechanism cannot be extrapolated to the future Cohesion Policy post-2027, if we do not want to put at risk that this policy remains the most efficient EU policy for delivering fair transitions throughout all EU regions."

Kamila Bláhová, Vice-president for European Affairs, Union of Towns and Municipalities of SMOCR (CZ), stated: "The RRF and the national recovery plans of the Czech Republic have a huge potential to support the efforts of local and regional governments aimed at revitalizing the local economy and green infrastructure investments at the local level. However, the issue of administrative capacity and poor synergies between the RRF and other EU funds present significant challenges. It's crucial to optimize how subnational governments can maximise the use of this substantial funding source and that we address these any shortcomings as the RRF moves forward."

Background

The consultation was conducted between January and March 2024, collating the views and experiences of 36 organisations representative of a variety of subnational government levels across 22 EU Member States. The respondents were from: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, and Sweden. The geographical composition of the respondents was not identical to that of previous consultations.  Responses received from individual local and regional governments were also taken into account.

Results of the previous CoR-CEMR joint consultations (January 2021 and April 2022).

​Contacts:

Matteo Miglietta - CoR
Tel. (+32) 470 895382
Matteo.miglietta@cor.europa.eu

Fiorella Lavorgna – CCRE-CEMR
Tel (+32) 2 500 05 35
Fiorella.Lavorgna@ccre-cemr.org

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