Thank you, Honourable Co-chairs, Honourable Members.
It is a pleasure to return to this House for the 12th Recovery and Resilience Dialogue.
A good deal has happened since our last dialogue in July. Since then, we have received many REPowerEU chapters from Member States as well as the final loan requests.
The end of 2023 will mark the halfway point in the lifetime of the RRF. Implementation is well underway, despite many economic and geopolitical changes.
Still, it remains essential for Member States to press ahead with steadily putting their reforms and investments into effect. Several of them also need to catch up with delays.
The Commission services are working intensively with national authorities to help them overcome obstacles and speed up implementation.
As you know, we recently published our second Annual Report, which contains more country-specific information. It comes just in time for the discharge process that has now started.
So far, 27 Member States have submitted requests for amending their plans. Of these, 22 include REPowerEU chapters.
These modifications are also an opportunity for countries to:
- address administrative capacity issues with additional measures;
- increase the absorption capacity of RRF and other EU funds;
- catch up on the disbursement schedule.
The modifications will help to adjust the plans to new local needs and realities. Throughout the summer, for example, we saw devastating events occur in several regions.
Some Member States, such as Slovenia, Greece and Croatia, are modifying their plans to help those affected most by the disastrous floods and fires.
Of the 22 REPowerEU chapters that I mentioned, the Commission has completed the assessment of nine plans and the Council has already adopted four of these.
In the chapters submitted so far, there is a strong cross-border dimension, as envisaged in the amended RRF Regulation.
A high number of countries have presented measures to strengthen the European energy market, ensure the security of supply, and further promote renewables and energy efficiency. This will protect households and the competitiveness of European businesses.
Let me give a few brief examples of the measures included in REPowerEU chapters that have been adopted by the Council:
Estonia will increase the access of renewable energy production to its electricity distribution network. France will simplify permit procedures and speed up the planning of renewable energy projects. Slovakia will carry out a reform to improve energy management of public buildings.
Several Member States have used the option to take out loans under the RRF. As you know, the deadline for Member States to request additional loan support was August 31st.
As part of modifying their plans, ten Member States have asked to increase the amount of loan support or requested loan support for the first time for an extra amount of €127.2 billion.
Overall, nearly €292 billion in RRF loans have been requested, which is equivalent to 76% of the amount available.
This demonstrates a high level of interest in taking out loans.
The Commission will now evaluate the additional investments and reforms that underpin these loan requests, when assessing the modified Recovery and Resilience Plans.
I will now turn to payments. To date, we have disbursed €153.4 billion.
We are now assessing payment requests for €39 billion – from Croatia, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Romania and Slovenia.
We will soon pay out the first tranches of pre-financing linked to the adopted REPowerEU chapters. Estonia will be the first Member State to receive its REPowerEU pre-financing since it was the first to submit the chapter in March.
We are confident that a large number of Member States will submit their payment requests soon after their modified plans and REPowerEU chapter are approved.
In parallel, the Commission has been working intensively over the past 12 months to further increase the transparency of RRF implementation. This is in line with the recommendations of the European Parliament and the Court of Auditors.
I already mentioned the 2023 Annual Report and its country-specific and thematic sections. We regularly update the RRF scoreboard, including with the information of the 100 largest recipients, which Member States must report.
To complement our partial payment methodology, we have published our approach to addressing possible reversals of milestones and targets.
We have also strengthened our audits to improve monitoring on how national control systems are working and to provide further assurance on protecting the EU’s financial interests.
Let me conclude with some observations on what lies ahead with the RRF. The next months will clearly be very busy, and we should not underestimate the challenges in front of us.
We have many modified plans to assess and approve, as well as many payment requests to assess and disburse.
In terms of payments, we have just made the second payment to Romania and expect to make more than ten payments over the following months. The large volume of payment requests shows that RRF implementation is continuing at a steady pace.
By the end of the year, and depending on progress on the ground, we aim to disburse more than €50 billion, which would bring total RRF disbursements to over €200 billion.
But let me stress again. What is most important for the success of the RRF as an instrument is for Member States to carry out the reforms and investments identified in their national plans – to be verifiably measured against milestones and targets achieved.
This remains the main priority – and the main challenge.
Timely and rapid implementation, and in full.
Thank you and with this, I pass the floor to Paolo.