The Recovery and Resilience Facility
Written by Sarah Borg
The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on the European economy. Economic activity has slowed down severely. Some sectors (like live entertainment and tourism) are affected in the essence of their activity and are unlikely to return to the way they operated before the pandemic. Hence, Europe faces the challenge of re-activating its economy to secure the levels of wealth, employment, income and innovation it is used to have.
At the same time, the crisis offers the conditions to accelerate structural economic changes, for instance in the direction of a European economy that is more sustainable, more digitally adapt and more autonomous from the world economy.
Thus, the pandemic crisis poses big political questions about the kind of economy we want to have in Europe. Choices are to be made about the jobs we want to foster and support, as well as a about the kinds of jobs we want to reduce and where we want to push for a transition to new kinds of economic activity. At the same time, the crisis response has involved an unprecedented display of the value of collective action.
EU leaders recognized that the European economy will not rebound by itself and that the pandemic risks to increase economic inequalities in Europe, instead of contributing to greater coherence and convergence. Hence, the European Commission and the EU Heads of State and Government have committed to free up to € 312.5 billion in grants and € 360 billion in low-interest loans to establish a Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) for investments and reforms for the period 2021-2023. Member States attain these funds – up to an individually calculated share –by preparing National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs), in which they outline a coherent package of reforms and public investment projects. The Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), also referred to as the ‘centerpiece of NextGenerationEU’, will constitute an unprecedented EU-wide resource to address the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the EU economies..
For the above-mentioned reasons, the Facility is also closely aligned with the Commission’s priorities ensuring a sustainable and inclusive recovery that promotes the green and digital transitions. The outcomes of such consultations at a local level has provided important insights on Malta’s socio-economic and environmental development, including the identification of reforms and investments for Malta’s RRP. Malta’s plan identifies the following 6 components for reforms and investments:
- Addressing climate neutrality through enhanced energy efficiency, clean energy and a circular economy.
- Addressing Carbon-Neutrality by decarbonizing transport.
- Fostering a digital, smart and resilient economy
- Strengthening the resilience of the health system.
- Enhancing quality education and fostering socio-economic sustainability.
- Strengthening the institutional framework.
Under the third component ‘fostering a digital, smart and resilient economy’ the Maltese plan allocates €55million out of the €316 million afforded to Malta in grants under the Facility. This component will be contributing directly to the digital public services by promoting modernised and secure digital services that are accessible to all. Under the third component, the public services will be benefitting from the RRF to build a more resilient and modern digital backbone as well as a modern digital workplace.