(Source: European Commission)
How did the Commission assess Italy’s first payment request?
On 30 December 2021, Italy submitted to the Commission a request for the disbursement of €21 billion under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The request was based on the achievement of the 51 milestones and targets for the first instalment, as outlined in the Council Implementing Decision approving the plan. They cover reforms in the areas of public administration (including its digitalisation), public procurement, civil and criminal justice, the insolvency framework, the spending review, tertiary education, active labour market policies and the framework law to strengthen the autonomy of people with disabilities. Furthermore, they concern major investments in the field of digitalisation of businesses (“Transition 4.0”), energy efficiency and renovation of residential buildings. In line with the RRF Regulation, the Commission had up to two months to carry out its preliminary assessment of the request.
With their request, the Italian authorities provided detailed and comprehensive evidence demonstrating the fulfilment of the 51 milestones and targets. The Commission thoroughly assessed this information before endorsing the positive preliminary assessment of the payment request.
What are the next steps?
The Commission has now sent the positive preliminary assessment of Italy’s satisfactory fulfilment of the milestones and targets required for this first payment to the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC), asking for its opinion. The EFC’s opinion, to be delivered within maximum four weeks, should be taken into account in the Commission’s final assessment. The Commission will adopt the decision on the disbursement of the financial contribution, in accordance with the examination procedure, through a comitology committee. Following the adoption of this decision by the Commission, the disbursement to Italy would take place. The amounts disbursed to the Member States will be published in the Recovery and Resilience Scoreboard. The Commission has also shared its positive preliminary assessment with the European Parliament.
How do the milestones and targets achieved by Italy so far effectively support the green transition?
The milestones associated to this first payment request include reforms and investments related to the green transition, such as reforms to make the management of water resources more efficient, as well as reforms that will simplify the legal framework to accelerate the implementation of transport infrastructure projects. They also include new legislation for better identification and management of hydrological risks, the adoption of measures to curb air pollution and promote biodiversity and specific reforms that will enable green investments. Among others, these specific reforms include the new legislation for the construction and modernisation of waste management plants, as well as the extension of the eligibility period for private works to significantly increase the energy efficiency of buildings.
How do the milestones and targets achieved by Italy so far effectively contribute to the digital transition?
Two key reforms associated to this first payment request support the digitalisation of the Italian public administration. The first one ensures that the public administration may procure Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) solutions in an easier and faster way, by setting up a fast track procedure for the purchase of ICT goods and a digital procurement system. The second one aims at (i) supporting the migration towards cloud solutions by the public administration and (ii) at enhancing data exchange processes between public administrations, by introducing a set of incentives and obligations and by removing regulatory obstacles. Legislative provisions have made the Transition 4.0 funding available for the digitalisation of Italy’s small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The publication of calls for expression of interest, launched in 2021, for Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) in the fields of microelectronics and cloud will contribute to the advancement of European R&D&I and industrial deployment on those sectors. The adoption of the National Plan for New Skills will contribute to define the lines along which digital skills training, both for the employed and unemployed in need for up or re-skilling, will be carried out by public employment services.
How do the milestones and targets achieved by Italy so far contribute to improving Italy’s economic and social situation, and its resilience?
The entry into force of the public procurement reform, as foreseen in the 2021 milestones, will contribute to the improvement of the business environment in Italy and to productivity growth in the medium and long term, as well as to macroeconomic stability. Similarly, the successful implementation of the milestones related to measures aimed at improving tax collection and the efficiency of public spending will contribute to the sustainability of public finances.
Furthermore, Italy successfully implemented a set of reforms to improve access and the educational outcomes in the tertiary education system. The adoption of the Worker Employability Guarantee (GOL) and the National plan for New Skills, as well as the provision of support to women’s entrepreneurships, are expected to contribute to the efficiency and fairness of the labour markets. The entry into force of the Framework Law to strengthen the autonomy of people with disabilities will also contribute to their social inclusion.
The adoption of the reorganisation plan by the Ministry of Health, together with the Italian Regions, will contribute to the increase in the availability of intensive care units throughout the country and will support the resilience of the healthcare sector.
Does the achievement of these first milestones and targets contribute to an effective implementation of the Plan?
The measures introduced by Italy so far to simplify administrative procedures, boost administrative capacity, and increase the efficiency and speed of public procurement constitute essential prerequisites to ensure a timely implementation of projects envisaged in Italy’s Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) until 2026. Furthermore, the governance framework and the audit and control system that have been put in place specifically for the Italian RRP are aimed at ensuring an effective implementation and monitoring of reforms and investments, including through enhanced central coordination, early detection of issues and provision of technical assistance to administrations, notably at local level. Finally, the reforms of the justice system will contribute to creating a more effective legal context for businesses and citizens, and ultimately for the deployment of the RRP projects.