The European Commission has today adopted a positive assessment of France’s recovery and resilience plan. This is an important step towards the EU disbursing €39.4 billion(US$40.07billion) in grants under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). This financing will support the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in France’s recovery and resilience plan. It will play a key role in enabling France emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The RRF – at the heart of NextGenerationEU – will provide up to €672.5 billion (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across the EU. The French plan forms part of an unprecedented coordinated EU response to the COVID-19 crisis, to address common European challenges by embracing the green and digital transitions, to strengthen economic and social resilience and the cohesion of the Single Market.
The Commission assessed France’s plan based on the criteria set out in the Recovery and Resilience Facility Regulation. The Commission’s analysis considered, in particular, whether the investments and reforms set out in France’s plan support the green and digital transitions; contribute to effectively addressing challenges identified in the European Semester; and strengthen its growth potential, job creation and economic and social resilience.
Securing France’s green and digital transition
The Commission’s assessment finds that France’s plan devotes 46 per cent of the plan’s total allocation to measures that support climate objectives. The plan includes investments in the energy renovation of buildings, clean mobility infrastructures and vehicles, and the decarbonisation of industrial processes. It features significant investments in R&D and innovation, in particular in the field of green technologies that should promote the deployment of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen. The plan also contributes to the preservation of biodiversity through investments in protected areas, ecological restoration, improvement of the forest management and extension of wooded areas.
The Commission finds that France’s plan devotes 21 per cent of the plan’s total allocation to measures that support the digital transition. The plan includes investments in research, innovation, the deployment of new digital technologies, the digitalisation of public administration, cybersecurity, electronic identity and eHealth. It also provides for investments in digital connectivity, including for rural areas, support for the digitalisation of firms, and improving digital education and skills.
Reinforcing France’s economic and social resilience
The Commission considers that the French plan includes an extensive set of mutually reinforcing reforms and investments that contribute to effectively addressing all or a significant subset of the economic and social challenges outlined in the country-specific recommendations addressed to France by the Council in the European Semester in 2019 and in 2020. This includes measures to improve the sustainability of public finances, support businesses accessing finance, tackling unemployment, modernising the healthcare system and supporting the green and digital transitions.
The French plan represents a comprehensive and adequately balanced response to France’s economic and social situation, thereby contributing appropriately to all six pillars referred to in the RRF Regulation.
Supporting flagship investment and reform projects
The French plan proposes projects in all seven European flagship areas. These are specific investment projects, which address issues that are common to all Member States in areas that create jobs and growth and are needed for the twin transition. For instance, France has proposed to provide €5.8 billion to renovate public and private buildings to improve their energy performance and comfort, while reducing the country’s energy bill and dependence, greenhouse gas emissions, as well as energy poverty.
The assessment also finds that none of the measures included in the plan do any significant harm to the environment, in line with the requirements laid out in the RRF Regulation.
The controls systems put in place by France are considered adequate to protect the financial interests of the Union. The plan provides sufficient details on how national authorities will prevent, detect and correct instances of conflict of interest, corruption and fraud relating to the use of funds.
Members of the College said:
President Ursula von der Leyen said:“I am delighted to present the European Commission’s positive assessment of France’s €39.4 billion recovery and resilience plan. NextGenerationEU is a symbol of what is possible when Europe comes together behind a shared vision of a better future. It will help finance the investments and reforms needed to build a prosperous future. The measures contained within it will play a crucial role in securing the green and digital transitions while making the French economy more competitive and resilient. The plan focuses on actions that will help secure our climate objectives, with almost half of the financing targeting this objective. Investments in energy renovations, sustainable mobility and the decarbonisation of industry have the potential to be transformative. We will stand with you to ensure these measures are delivered.”
Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People, Valdis Dombrovskis said: “France has delivered a truly forward-looking recovery plan. It contains significant investments in clean hydrogen, transport and energy efficiency that will help to make France’s environmental ambitions a reality, while promoting the competitiveness and innovation of its industry at the same time. The plan will support a wide range of sectors to become more digital: businesses, public administration, schools and the health sector. We also welcome its focus on creating more job opportunities for young people and on reducing regional inequalities – which should make a real difference on the ground. Combined with meaningful reforms, these investments should make France’s economy more inclusive and resilient for years to come. Now it is time to put the plan into effect.”
Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni said: “After an immensely difficult year for the French people, the endorsement of the recovery and resilience of plan is more than good news. It is a unique opportunity for France, with €39 billion in European support, to relaunch its economy after the pandemic on a stronger and more sustainable basis. The plan is strongly oriented towards the green transition, with 46 per cent of these funds destined to finance climate measures, from building renovations to clean mobility. It also has a very strong digitalisation component, with investments to bring ultrafast broadband to rural areas, support digital skills development and roll out eHealth services. The whole of France stands to benefit from this comprehensive and ambitious work programme.”
The Commission has today adopted a proposal for a Council Implementing Decision to provide €39.4 billion in grants to France under the RRF. The Council will now have, as a rule, four weeks to adopt the Commission’s proposal.
The Council’s approval of the plan would allow for the disbursement of €5.1 billion to France in pre-financing. This represents 13 per cent of the total allocated amount for France.
The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the satisfactory fulfilment of the milestones and targets outlined in the Council Implementing Decision, reflecting progress on the implementation of the investments and reforms.