Presented as a new departure in EU policy-making, the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is now in its second year of implementation. As the centrepiece of the NextGenerationEU initiative, it is quite unlike any previous EU instrument: in its sheer size (almost €724 billion), its limited duration, its delivery mechanism and its financing. So is the RRF a revolution in EU policy-making? What aspects make it so unique? How does the instrument work, and who are the main players? Beyond handing out money to Member States, how does it measure up to its name by addressing reforms that enhance resilience? How does it tie in with other EU instruments, and with the challenges that have recently arisen through the war in Ukraine? And what guarantees are there of accountability and transparency about the proper use of the RRF?
Following an accelerated decision-making process – in EU terms – in 2020, and a first roll-out in 2021, it was in 2022 that implementation of the RRF really kicked off, with the European Commission making several transfers to Member States to facilitate their sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. In this issue of the ECA Journal we look at the various building blocks that make up the RRF, from resilience as its objective to performance aspects, since the main condition for payments is the fulfilment of milestones and targets. We feature views from key RRF decision-makers at EU and Member State level, with a special focus on the way it is financed and on control arrangements. We zoom in on how the RRF ties into questions of transition, and there are several articles specifically relating to controls and the challenges auditors will face in reporting satisfactorily to stakeholders. Because, as indicated by some of those whose names appear in this Journal, full and factual information on what RRF funding has achieved, and how, will be fundamental to assessing its success. Finally, you can read expert perspectives on the risks and lessons that are already being used to feed into future action, both under the RRF and through subsequent policy initiatives.
Highlights in this issue:
12 An innovative approach to public policy‑making: resilience as a central pillar of the RRF By Associate Professor Concepcion Campos Acuña, Rovira i Virgili University
17 ‘The mere creation of the RRF is a sign of resilience [in itself]’ Interview with Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission for an Economy that Works for People
23 The Recovery and Resilience Facility – an instrument built for performance By Céline Gauer, Director-General at the European Commission
45 ‘A constructive approach is needed to make the RRF a success story in every Member State’ Interview with Mikuláš Bek, Minister for European Affairs of the Czech Republic
54 Obtaining a full picture of the RRF – a multidimensional puzzle requiring various ECA efforts Interview with Ivana Maletić, ECA Member
72 The ECA’s Statement of Assurance audit of the RRF By Nikolaos Kylonis and Judit Oroszki, Financing and Administering the Union Directorate
77 Was the RRF set on the right track? Reviewing the European Commission’s assessment of National Recovery and Resilience Plans By Giuseppe Diana, Regulation of Markets and Competitive Economy Directorate
94 France’s recovery plan: multifaceted, and a challenge for auditors By Lionel Vareille, French Court of Audit
104 ‘Make sure the RRF is well spent, because there will be no second chance’ Interview with Siegfried Mureşan, Member of the European Parliament
118 Substitution effects, delays, constraints and administrative capacity risk considerably reducing actual investments under cohesion policy and NGEU/RRF By Jorge Núñez Ferrer and Tomás Ruiz de la Ossa, Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS)
130 Five lessons from the Recovery and Resilience Facility for future crisis-response instruments By Zsolt Darvas, Bruegel and Corvinus University, Budapest
The 27 articles on the main topic also include interviews with Ioanna Metaxopoulou, ECA Director, Douglas Hoyos-Trauttmansdorff, Chair of the Court of Audit Committee of the Austrian Parliament, and new ECA Member Jorg Petrovič.
For various other aspects of the RRF, including how to audit it, there are articles by Gert Jan Koopman, Director-General of DG Budget at the European Commission; Manfred Kraff, Internal Auditor and Director-General of the European Commission’s Internal Audit Service; Renate Nikolay, European Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová’s Head of Cabinet; Susana Climent del Castillo from the Spanish Ministry of Environmental Transition and Demographic Challenge; Mauro Orefice, Italian Court of Auditors; Professor R. Daniel Kelemen, Department of Political Science, Rutgers University; Alessandro D’Alfonso, European Parliamentary Research Service; and Jules Bracke, Leiden University, and Luka Raaijmakers, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy of the Netherlands. ECA contributors include Mihails Kozlovs, ECA Member; Giorgos Tsikkos, Regulation of Markets and Competitive Economy Directorate; Andrej Minarovic, Human Resources, Finance and General Services Directorate; Marion Kilhoffer, Financing and Administering the Union Directorate; Spyridon Pilas, Directorate for Information, Workplace and Innovation; Edite Dzalve, cabinet of ECA Member Mihails Kozlovs; Alan Findlay and Radek Majer, Directorate for Audit Quality Control; and Michele Zagordo, Andreas Bolkart, Tetiana Dniprova, Matthias Beermann and Gaston Moonen, all from the Directorate of the Presidency.
This Journal also covers several ECA outreach activities and contains an overview of recent ECA publications.