National stimulus packages should build resilience, self-reliance and social protection – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology

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  • Regular audit and control of expenditure to protect the financial interests of the EU
  • Investments and reforms should focus on strengthening the EU’s strategic autonomy in key supply chains and critical infrastructure.
  • To mitigate the social and economic impacts of the crisis, funds must be used effectively, reaching citizens and the real economy.

The Economic and Monetary Affairs and Budgets Committees are calling for recovery funding to be linked to respect for the rule of law and maximum return on investment.

The report, adopted by MEPs by 73 votes to 10 with 13 abstentions, aims to influence the Commission’s next review of the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) expected by 31 July 2022 .

Protect EU finances and values

MEPs want the Commission to ensure a robust mechanism for auditing and monitoring RRF expenditure, implementation and data management. According to MEPs, this would prevent abuse, double funding or overlapping of objectives with other EU funding programmes.

The report adopted today stresses the importance of respect for the rule of law and Article 2 of the TFEU as preconditions for access to FRR funding, and that the State conditionality mechanism of EU law is fully applicable to the FRR. MEPs expect the Commission to refrain from endorsing the draft national plans of Poland and Hungary as long as concerns about respect for the rule of law, judicial independence and anti-fraud measures, conflicts of interest and corruption persist.

The rule of law and the sound financial management of EU funds require continuous assessment throughout the life cycle of the FRR and it should be possible to stop or recover funds already disbursed in the event of non-compliance .

Transparency

MEPs reaffirm the importance of the Recovery and Resilience Scoreboard in providing basic information to citizens on overall progress in implementing national plans. They expect continuous monitoring of the implementation of the six pillars of the RRF, as well as the target of 37% for green expenditure and 20% for digital issues. They recall that Member States should collect and ensure access to data on the beneficial owner(s) of the beneficiary of the funds and of the beneficiaries of the programme.

Strategic autonomy, war in Ukraine and social investment

RRF investments in green transition and digital transformation should contribute to increasing the strategic autonomy and independence of the EU, in particular to reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels. However, MEPs call for more cross-border projects, such as improving the interconnection of Europe’s gas and electricity networks and full synchronization of electricity networks. They underline the role of the RRF in the deployment of REPowerEU and argue that the loans available under the RRF could be used to complement these projects and advance investments in the EU’s energy transition, thus contributing significantly to the EU energy sovereignty.

They also encourage Member States to use the full potential of the FRR, including loans, to counter the effects of current and future challenges – in areas such as SMEs, healthcare, support measures for Ukrainian refugees and assistance to local and regional administrations in the use of funding. effectively.

Finally, MEPs believe that building on the example of the RRF, in the framework of the NextGenerationEU, the strong added value of a common EU response that can be mobilized quickly to deal with crises and new challenges could inspire future initiatives and mechanisms in the EU.

Joel C. Hicks