Statement by President von der Leyen on Latvia’s recovery and resilience plan

(Source: European Commission)

Thank you very much Prime Minister,

Dear Krišjānis,

What a pleasure to be here and thank you very much for the very warm welcome I got here. Thank you very much for receiving me at the Technical University, here in Riga. It shows how much all of you are committed to a sustainable future. And it was impressive for me at the beginning to see the hydrogen-fuelled bus, the trolley. But I know that you are also very engaged in the New European Bauhaus, for example. So Latvia is indeed setting a very powerful example.

I am glad to say that NextGenerationEU will support you in this endeavour, the path towards climate neutrality we have agreed on together. NextGenerationEU is indeed an exceptional response to an exceptional crisis, the pandemic. And we know the heavy impact the pandemic has on our economies and our societies. But NextGenerationEU is not only there to recover, it is much more than that. It will reshape our economies and societies for future generations. Because we are digitising with NextGenerationEU our economies like we have never done before. We are making the European Green Deal a reality. And we are equipping our societies to be stronger, to be more resilient.

This whole NextGenerationEU plan is worth EUR 800 billion in today’s prices. And it is the recovery Europe needs, Latvia needs, we all together need after this horrible pandemic. So today, I am very happy to announce that the European Commission has given its green light to Latvia’s recovery and resilience plan. Our approval is worth the disbursement of EUR 1.8 billion over the next years. And it follows a very close and very good cooperation. And I thank you for that, Krišjānis, for the good cooperation with the Latvian authorities. And the thorough assessment of the Commission brought this overall positive assessment.

If we look at the plan, 37% of the plan’s budget support the European Green Deal, so it is a sustainable investment. It foresees, for example, a renovation wave to make buildings more energy efficient and more affordable, the heating and cooling of systems. It has investments in solar panels and in clean mobility, as we have just been seeing with the hydrogen-fuelled bus, but much more than that. Almost EUR 300 million will enable a complete transformation of Riga’s transport system. And it is just the beginning.

Because the Latvian plan, of course, has a strong emphasis also on our second landmark, besides the European Green Deal, it is digitalisation. The plan devotes 21% to digitalisation. It will help Latvian business to go digital. It will develop new products, new markets and good jobs for Latvians. It will be an investment in 5G networks. And it will improve better road safety, driving along the Via Baltica, because we have a lot of investment in the electrification of our mobility system.

Of course, this plan – and I know this is an emphasis for you – is investing heavily in people, in youth, in skills. It is about digital upskilling and digital equipment, mainly for pupils and students from families where it was very difficult through the pandemic to have enough access to education and to training. So these are just some concrete examples that show how much NextGenerationEU is investing in our priorities, in the European Union – that is the European Green Deal, that is digitalisation, and most importantly it is resilience.

Finally, I am very glad that your plan also foresees strong investment and positive reforms to strengthen the national health system. I think this shows a lot of lessons learnt from the pandemic, we have that in many Member States. I am very glad about that. Ten Latvian hospitals will receive much-needed funding to make high quality healthcare available to all. There will be a minimum income reform, as well as, of course, you are very much engaged in the higher education reform.

So in short, I can affirm that this plan clearly meets the demanding criteria we have jointly established, with the emphasis on the green and on the digital transitions, but also on the regional and the social cohesion. This is outstanding in the Latvian plan. It will help to build a better future. We know that NextGenerationEU will deliver so much more than 27 Member States could do individually. It is the overarching common emphasis on our priorities that is so important.

As I said, it is EUR 1.8 billion over the next years. Once the plan is approved by the Council, which should be the case within the next four weeks, we can start with the funding. We all know this is not the end of the journey but the beginning. Because then it is about implementation, a lot of work is ahead of us. But I just wanted to say to you, convey to you that we are at your side in every step of this implementation. Your success is our success. And with that, I want to hand over officially the document that gives you the approval of the Latvian plan for NextGenerationEU.

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