The freshly published Communication on the two-year anniversary of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), adopted on 21 February by the European Commission, does not address any concerns raised by local and regional leaders on the territorial impact of the €724 billion financial instrument. The President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Vasco Alves Cordeiro, and the CoR rapporteur on the RRF, Rob Jonkman, jointly call on the European Commission to finally investigate the effective contribution of the RRF to cohesion in Europe and the added value of the financed projects.
The President of the CoR, Vasco Alves Cordeiro (PT/PES), said: "Two years ago, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, European solidarity prevailed as we adopted a historical recovery plan. With the green and digital transformations as objectives, its success relies on a good articulation with cohesion policy in order to strengthen the social, economic and territorial cohesion and to ensure that no region is left behind. Bearing in mind the challenges Europe faces today, we need a coordinated approach at EU level supporting ambitious investments to deliver strong and fair solutions for citizens in all cities and regions."
Rob Jonkman (NL/EPP), alderman of the municipality of Opsterland and CoR rapporteur on the implementation of the RRF, stated: "As the European Committee of the Regions has reiterated on recent occasions, local and regional authorities have important legal competences in many Member States across the six pillars of the RRF, especially the implementation of the green transitions, and digital transformation to economic and territorial cohesion and competitiveness. Take for example, climate adaptation works, major infrastructure projects towards sustainable urban mobility and green public procurement all affect local and regional authorities' plans. Cities and regions' involvement in the further implementation of this time-limited, once in a generation Recovery Plan is therefore not only a matter of logic and fairness, but also necessary for the RRF to truly achieve its stated objectives and avoid an absorption problem. As such, local and regional authorities should be recognised and treated as partners, not so-called 'stakeholders', as the language of this Communication uses again. We need more partnership and multi-level cooperation and less centralisation. Moreover, the financing potential that remains represents a good opportunity for member states which could access affordable loans. We call for the support of the European Parliament in particular, in ensuring more transparency and parliamentary control for the accessing of RRF funds by local and regional authorities."
The opinion drafted by Mr Jonkman was unanimously adopted by the CoR on 8 February. Through the opinion, local and regional leaders already voiced criticism of the review report on the RRF published in July 2022 by the European Commission, describing it as a "missed opportunity" for failing to address the governance of the national recovery and resilience plans and the lack of involvement of local and regional authorities.
Regions and cities account for one-third of all public expenditure and more than half (53%) of public investment in the EU, they provide crucial public services to citizens, and they invest in key policy areas covered by the National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs) financed by extraordinary EU funds released in the framework of the EU's economic recovery package, NextGenerationEU. Despite this vital role, cities and regions have so far often been neglected in the monitoring and implementation of the European Union's €724 billion RRF, as demonstrated by two surveys conducted in 2021 and 2022.
The EU's Recovery and Resilience Facility is the €723.8 billion financial instrument (in current prices, of which €338 billion in grants and €385.8 billion in loans) designed to support Member States in carrying out reforms and investing in the EU's common priorities. The RRF is the biggest financial tool included in the €801 billion recovery plan NextGenerationEU. To benefit from the RRF's support, Member States should present national recovery and resilience plans indicating the reforms and investments that would be financed.
Monica Tiberi – Spokesperson of the President
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