(Source: European Commission)
The European Commission has today adopted a positive assessment of Slovakia’s recovery and resilience plan. This is an important step towards the EU disbursing €6.3 billion in grants under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). This financing will support the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Slovakia’s recovery and resilience plan. It will play a key role in enabling Slovakia 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 Slovak 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 Slovakia’s plan based on the criteria set out in the RRF Regulation. The Commission’s analysis considered, in particular, whether the investments and reforms set out in Slovakia’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 Slovakia’s green and digital transition
The Commission’s assessment finds that Slovakia’s plan devotes 43% of its total allocation to measures that support climate objectives. This includes investments in new renewable energy capacities, energy efficiency, greening of private and public buildings (including hospitals and schools), developing new infrastructure for electric vehicle charging points, public transport, the decarbonisation of industry and adaptation to climate change.
The Commission’s assessment finds that Slovakia’s plan devotes 21% of its total allocation to measures that support the digital transition. This includes investments in e-governance, the digital transformation of education and healthcare, together with support for enhancing the digital technologies available to businesses, particularly SMEs.
Reinforcing Slovakia’s economic and social resilience
The Commission considers that Slovakia’s 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 Slovakia by the Council in the European Semester in 2019 and in 2020. It includes measures that tackle long-standing challenges in the areas of education, childcare and healthcare. Research, development and innovation are also addressed with comprehensive measures that are expected to tackle the most important shortcomings. These include the low quality and inclusiveness of education, fragmented research, development and innovation policy coordination, insufficient public-private cooperation, and weak research, development and innovation performance. Additional measures proposed in the plan to improve the justice system, public procurement and the fight against money laundering have the potential to contribute to effectively addressing many underlying challenges. Several reforms are expected to improve the long-term sustainability of public finances, notably the planned pension reform.
The plan represents a comprehensive and adequately balanced response to Slovakia’s economic and social situation, thereby contributing appropriately to all six pillars of the RRF Regulation.
Supporting flagship investment and reform projects
The Slovak plan proposes projects in all seven European flagship areas. These are specific investment projects that 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, Slovakia has proposed to provide €528 million to renovate at least 30,000 family houses to improve their energy and green performance, while reducing people’s energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions as well as adapting to climate change with water retention measures.
The assessment also finds that none of the measures included in the plan significantly harm the environment, in line with the requirements laid out in the RRF Regulation.
The controls systems put in place by Slovakia 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 Slovakia’s recovery and resilience plan. The plan represents a significant effort by Slovakia to address the challenges it faces and ensure nobody is left behind as we secure the green and digital transitions. It includes a large number of reforms as well as many climate-relevant investments and will provide a boost to digitalisation. We will stand by you every step of the way to ensure that the plan delivers its full potential.”
Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People, said: “This is a strong recovery plan that will set Slovakia on the track to an inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and a more resilient economy with higher growth prospects. Ambitious investments and reforms in education, science and healthcare will increase the country’s attractiveness for doing business and create more opportunities across the country. I welcome in particular the strong emphasis on green and digital projects, which will improve the competitiveness of firms and the quality of public services – ultimately improving people’s wellbeing too. The intense preparation of this plan bodes well for its implementation.”
Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economy, said: “Our positive assessment of Slovakia’s plan brings the country a big step closer to benefitting from €6.3 billion in NextGenerationEU grants. This ambitious plan will help to boost investment in renewable energy, sustainable transport and decarbonisation in the Upper Nitra region. It will support reforms to improve education and healthcare, while also ensuring both the adequacy of pensions and the sustainability of the pension system.”
The Commission has today adopted a proposal for a Council Implementing Decision to provide €6.3 billion in grants to Slovakia 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 €823 million to Slovakia in pre-financing. This represents 13% of the total allocated amount for Slovakia.
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.